Boks start title defence with a bonus-point win
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH REPORT: South Africa started the defence of their title, won in 2019, with a comfortable 32-12 win over a rusty Argentina in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Outscoring Los Pumas by three tries to nil, the Springboks continued the impressive defensive form that helped them beat the British and Irish Lions series just a week ago and walked away with a bonus-point win.
It was not flawless, but the Boks showed they remain the team to beat.
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Jaden Hendrikse, called into the matchday 23 just hours before kick-off, came off the bench to score to put the seal on the win.
The scrumhalf dived over in the corner to secure the third try level with New Zealand on five points at the top of the table after the first round.
Hendrikse woke on Saturday believing he would watch the match from the stand at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
But when a hip niggle ruled out Herschel Jantjies, Hendrikse took his place on the bench and came on seven minutes from time in place of Cobus Reinach.
After scoring two tries within 18 minutes of the kick-off through Reinach and wing Aphelele Fassi, the world champion Springboks were running out of time to claim a third and an extra point.
Then, replacements Marco van Staden, Morne Steyn and Hendrikse combined to give the 21-year-old scrumhalf a fairytale start as a Springbok.
Van Staden charged for the line and when he was held up, the ball moved to Steyn, whose pass sent Hendrikse over to seal a clinical 20-point victory.
Scoring completed a remarkable turnaround for Hendrikse, who did not make the 46-man Springbok squad chosen in June for Tests against Georgia and the British and Irish Lions.
He was then sent off for elbowing Wales fullback Liam Williams when playing for his franchise, the Sharks, in a heavy loss to the B&I Lions.
But after serving a three-match suspension, he caught the eye of Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber and was called up last week as cover after first-choice scrumhalf Francois de Klerk was injured.
It was a solid rather than spectacular victory for South Africa, who rested 10 of the team that started a series-winning victory over the Lions in Cape Town last weekend.
Man of the match: Santiago Carreras was good under the high ball, Nicolás Sánchez pulled the strings at flyhalf, while forwards like Rodrigo Bruni, Pablo Matera and captain Julian Montoya were also impressive. Sibusiso Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi chased hard, Elton Jantjies directed the show, Cobus Reinach was impressive, Siyamthanda Kolisi had another captain’s innings, Eben Etzebeth and Joseph Dweba were also impressive. Our award goes to hard-working Springbok No.8 Jasper Wiese – who made 39 metres with his 12 carries, beat two defenders, made seven tackles and missed just one.
Moment of the match: Flying wing Aphelele Fassi scored a great try and had a second turned over, while replacement scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse’s try on debut is also worth mentioning. However, watching starting Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach sprint more than 60 metres for his team’s opening try after picking up a stray pass set the tome for the Bok win.
Villain: Argentina lock Marco Kremer was constantly on the edge and cost his team on a couple of occasions. He is perhaps fortunate not to have been carded.
For South Africa
Tries: Reinach, Fassi, Hendrikse
Pens: Jantjies 5
Pens: Sánchez 4
South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Albertus Smith, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Dan du Preez, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Morné Steyn.
Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Santiago Chocobares, 12 Jerónimo De La Fuente, 11 Matías Moroni, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Facundo Isa, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Marco Kremer, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (Captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: Facundo Bosch, 17 Carlos Muzzio, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Matias Alemanno, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Tom Foley (Wales)
* Additional reporting by AFP