Boks enjoy that winning feeling
REACTION: South Africa will enjoy their victory over Argentina and their triumph in the Rugby Championship.
However, Springbok captain Duane Vermeulen said these moments are all stepping stones towards the big goal of the year, the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard scored 31 points as South Africa thrashed Argentina 46-13 in Salta at the weekend, to win the Rugby Championship for the first time.
The Springboks last won a SANZAAR competition in 2009, when they finished first in the Tri-Nations, the forerunner of the Rugby Championship.
Pollard notched two tries and kicked three conversions and five penalties in a bonus-point victory for South Africa, who led 24-13 at half-time.
South Africa finished with 12 points in a competition reduced to one round from the traditional two because of the World Cup in Japan from September 20.
Australia, who stunned world champions New Zealand 47-26 earlier Saturday, came second with eight points followed by the All Blacks with six and the Pumas with two.
The Springboks and Los Pumas meet again this coming Saturday, this time in Pretoria, in a warm-up international for the World Cup.
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“It is a fantastic feeling winning a major trophy for the first time in 10 years,” said Springboks skipper and No.8, Vermeulen.
“This is a nice thing for the team for all the hard work put in and it is also a big thing for us going on to the World Cup.
“We played the best teams in the Southern Hemisphere so it is good to have this one step up, although a lot of work still needs to be done before the World Cup.
“We are very happy where we are at the moment and winning the Rugby Championship is a fantastic achievement.”
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The Springboks delivered a clinical attacking performance and a powerful forward display to outsmart and outmuscle their South American hosts at the high altitude venue in Salta.
“I think for us the most important thing was to work on our consistency,” the Boks skipper added.
“We started the Rugby Championship working on executing our plans. In a way, we are happy with our performance, but there are still a few things to work on.
“It’s a great feeling for us to walk away with the title, but in the end it’s a stepping stone for us going into the World Cup.”
The Springboks finished their campaign unbeaten following two wins and draw, and the impact of Saturday’s impressive win is something that Vermeulen was very aware of.
“The victory is a great thing for our country, because we know that if the Springboks do well then everyone is happy in South Africa,” said Vermeulen.
“So for us it’s a great feeling, but I want to emphasise it’s more about working on our consistency and working towards the things we hope to achieve.
“New Zealand had a tough game and they will be hungry to bounce back, so we have to prepare well [for the opening group match in the World Cup next month].
“But we are happy with where we are at the moment.”
The win was by the biggest margin (33 points) in the 17 matches under the tutelage of Rassie Erasmus, as Bok coach, and took the team’s try tally in this year’s Rugby Championship to 11.
The team arrive back in the country on Monday morning.
Love this sort of thing. Start of the second half, Argentina behind and desperate for momentum after receiving the restart…but they can’t resist blocking off Faf de Klerk’s trademark, arcing one-man raid on Nicolas Sanchez and concede a penalty. pic.twitter.com/8q5mSCJ9CX
— Charlie Morgan (@CharlieFelix) August 11, 2019