South Africa beats Argentina 32-12 in Rugby Championship
GQEBERHA, South Africa (AP) — South Africa came straight off a series win over the British and Irish Lions to beat Argentina 32-12 in the opening round of the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship on Saturday.
The Springboks scored three tries, through starting scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, wing Aphelele Fassi and replacement scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, to neutralize an Argentina team that relied on the boot of Nicolas Sanchez for all its points.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked 17 points for the Springboks, who made 10 changes to the starting lineup that clinched the series against the Lions a week ago. Captain Siya Kolisi, lock pairing Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, No. 8 Jasper Wiese and Reinach were the only ones retained.
South Africa fielded an entirely new backline outside Reinach.
Reinach set the Springboks on their way with a try off turnover ball in the 13th minute. He scooped up a loose Argentina pass deep inside South African territory and raced away to score in the left corner, just evading an attempted cover tackle from Rodrigo Bruni.
South Africa’s need to rotate players for its fourth test in as many weeks gave an opportunity to Fassi, who scored off a cross-kick from Jantjies to give the home team its second try at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Fassi hauled the low kick in with his left hand as it drifted toward the touchline, juggled briefly, and regathered to speed clear and put South Africa 15-3 up after 20 minutes.
The Boks were accurate enough to lead 21-9 at halftime despite conceding the territory and possession stats to the Pumas.
Jantjies kicked two more penalties in the second half before Hendrikse celebrated his debut with a try with two minutes to go. He squeezed the ball down with a full-length dive to the corner to give the Springboks a bonus point.
That meant a successful outing for South Africa, which dug deep into its reserve players ahead of a second test against the Argentinians and a fifth test in five weeks next weekend.
New Zealand leads the early Rugby Championship standings after beating Australia 57-22 earlier Saturday.
South Africa won the southern hemisphere’s top rugby tournament in 2019 on the way to a World Cup triumph, but withdrew last season and didn’t defend its title because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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