JOHANESBURG - A 21-point win over the Pumas in their opening match of the Castle Rugby Championship was more than should have been hoped for from the Springboks, but coach Heyneke Meyer is a perfectionist and there were enough imperfections at Newlands to trouble him.
Unsurprisingly, one of them was his team’s failure to pick up a four-try bonus point when it appeared there for the taking during a second half where the Boks were dominant, but were prevented by poor finishing from crossing the line when they were clearly chasing the fourth try.
The only try after halftime, where the Boks led 20-6, came from Bryan Habana, who capped a fine performance by comfortably winning the battle in the air from a Morne Steyn cross-kick to dot down in the corner. That and Steyn’s conversion provided the only points of the second half, although in the Bok defence, they did eschew several kickable penalty attempts in favour of going for the try.
Had they kicked just some of those goals they might have stretched the lead further, though whether that would have had an impact on a Pumas team seemingly content with damage limitation in their first outing at this level of competition is debatable.
Normally when a team builds up the points it causes the opposing side to become more desperate and thus throw more into an attempt to close down the gap, thus presenting their opponents with more opportunities. But that doesn’t appear to count for Argentina, who did try and break out a few times towards the end, but seemed more inclined to safety-first tactics even when it was clear they weren’t going to win. – Nampa/Reuters