Tries by wings Makazole Mapimpi and Canan Moodie helped a much-changed South Africa to a 24-13 victory over Argentina in their Rugby World Cup warm-up clash in Buenos Aires on Saturday, ruining a major milestone for home hooker Agustin Creevy.
The Springboks made 13 changes for the game with several players given a chance to impress before coach Jacques Nienaber names his 33-player World Cup squad on Tuesday, but they trailed 10-3 after an ill-disciplined first half.
After Mapimpi and Moodie crossed for scores in quick succession at the start of the second period however, they turned the screw, and the boot of flyhalf Manie Libbok took them clear as he kicked 14 points.
“I’m just very happy, we worked very hard,” South Africa’s stand-in captain Bongi Mbonambi said. “It is always tough to come and play here in Argentina. It was a proper test match but this was a good game for us before the World Cup.”
Nienaber will be the first to admit it was a mixed bag from his side, who should have been punished further for their high penalty count, especially in the opening period.
The home side’s only try was scored by scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou and they had few answers to the South African power game, but when Creevy came on as a replacement he became the first Argentine player to reach 100 test caps.
South Africa’s forward power was evident in the scrum and they were much more clinical after halftime, lowering their error count and forcing Argentina in mistakes through pressure.
The home side were first to go over the line through Bertranou when he took a quick tap-penalty following a succession of infringements by the Boks in their own 22.
South Africa twice had the ball held up over the Argentina tryline and Libbok missed three very kickable penalties in a forgettable first 40 minutes for the visitors, capped by a yellow card for Franco Mostert for a late tackle.
But the Boks made a fast start to the second period despite being a player down as they kept the ball through several phases and eventually worked space outside for Mapimpi to cross in the corner.
And they got another shortly afterwards as Libbok’s cross-kick was collected by wing Moodie and he had an easy run-in to score.
The win may have come at some price after the Boks’ experienced centre Lukhanyo Am was forced off at halftime with a knee injury.