South Africa beat Argentina but fall well short of Rugby Championship title

South Africa beat Argentina but fall well short of Rugby Championship title - REUTERS
South Africa beat Argentina but fall well short of Rugby Championship title - REUTERS
  • Springboks record 10-point win but it's not enough to prevent another All Blacks title 

  • Six yellow cards handed out in error-strewn and stop-start clash

  • Pumas battle well but cannot force second win ever in South Africa 

South Africa won the battle but lost the war following their 38-21 victory over ill-disciplined Argentina at a sold out King’s Park in Durban on Saturday, a result that handed the 2022 Rugby Championship title to New Zealand.

The All Blacks top the standings with 19 points from their six games, one more than South Africa, who could not manage the try-scoring bonus point they needed to go with a 39-point winning margin on the scoreboard to claim the trophy.

Instead, Argentina ran them close in Durban but were once again let down by their discipline as they received four yellow cards and conceded two penalty tries. The Boks also scored through number eight Jasper Wiese, loose-forward Siya Kolisi and replacement fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse.

The visitors looked dangerous every time they had ball in hand and scored three tries through scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou, back row Juan Martín Gonzalez and centre Matias Moroni, but spent much of the time on defence as they conceded 22 penalties in the game.

"It's tough, but we never take a win for granted and it is an honour to beat a great side like Argentina," South Africa captain Kolisi said at the post-match presentation.

"The way we started, it was slow. But we were able to score some points. Our discipline also let us down a bit at times.

"When we create opportunities... we were so many times in their half and we did not take the chances. We create so much, our game-plan is working, we just don't convert those opportunities."

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi bemoaned his side lack of discipline - GETTY IMAGES
South Africa captain Siya Kolisi bemoaned his side lack of discipline - GETTY IMAGES

New Zealand's 40-14 win over Australia earlier in the day made South Africa's task difficult in Durban, especially as they have only scored more than 40 points in a game once since winning the Rugby World Cup in 2019 – against Georgia in July last year.

Like Kolisi, coach Jacques Nienaber has bemoaned their inability to turn pressure in the opponents' 22 into points this season and it proved the case again in the first half as they dominated possession and territory but led 17-7 at the break.

It was a mixture of poor decision-making, stout Argentina defence and cynical play from the visitors that led to yellow cards for forwards Marcos Kremer and Juan Martin Gonzalez, but the Boks could not capitalise.

Wiese scored his first try in a green and gold jersey as the home side scrummed the ball over the line, before Kolisi crossed when he broke away from a maul and dived over.

Argentina scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou got a try back before the half-time whistle when he profited from some scrappy defence from the hosts.

For the second week in a row Argentina started the second half much the brighter and they were rewarded with an excellent second score via loose-forward Gonzalez as he showed excellent pace to race down the left-wing and dot down.

But the Boks' power game and their Bomb Squad off the bench was sapping the energy of the visitors and they conceded two more scores from driving mauls that ended as penalty tries and two more yellow cards. (Reporting by Nick Said; additional writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town

Springboks beat Argentina - as it happened

06:19 PM

FULL-TIME: South Africa 36-21 Argentina

The Boks win but fall short of the 40-point margin needed to prevent the All Blacks from winning their eighth Rugby Championship.

It was a match littered with errors and penalties and the 40-point win for the hosts always looked unlikely from the midway point of the first half.

06:18 PM


South Africa 36-21 Argentina                     

The try of the game comes with the 80-minute mark gone. The ball is shifted out right, the ball eventually finding the hands of Arendse who shows a clean pair of heels to touch down in the corner. The conversion is missed but it doesn't matter.

06:12 PM

77 mins: South Africa 31-21 Argentina                     

The hosts have all but won this - they are encamped in the Argentina 22 but as I type they are penalised and the Pumas can kick for territory.

06:09 PM

75 mins: South Africa 31-21 Argentina                   

The hosts are back to having a full compliment of players with De Klerk and Etzebeth.

06:07 PM


South Africa 31-21 Argentina   

The hosts may not win the Rugby Championship but they still have a match to win and they bounce back well with another penalty try for an illegal sack. There's another yellow card as Argentina's Sclavi is sent to the bin for his sins.

06:02 PM


South Africa 24-21 Argentina   

From the lineout the Pumas create a driving maul before passing out wide. They keep the ball alive well, being paticent before they find the overlap on the left allowing Moroni to walk over unopposed - they deserved that try with the Boks having conceded seven penalties in almost as many minutes.

Boffelli adds the extras and it's once again a three-point game.

05:57 PM

65 mins: South Africa 24-14 Argentina                   

The visitors AGAIN knock on with the line in sight BUT the Boks have again conceded a penalty and are warned another yellow will be coming if they infringe again.

The Pumas kick for touch.

05:56 PM

65 mins: South Africa 24-14 Argentina                 

Again the Pumas are in the South African 22 and again the hosts give away a penalty. It's one too many and De Klerk, just off the bench, sees yellow. The hosts are now down to 13 men.

05:54 PM

62 mins: South Africa 24-14 Argentina                 

Argentina buoyed by that decision move into the hosts' half but a knock-on with the line in sight (not for the first time this match) again scuppers them.

It goes back for an earlier infringement and the Pumas kick for touch. They cannot make it count, however, and the Boks can breathe a sigh of relief.

But the hosts need ball and points and they have been starved of both so far since the break, with just that penalty try to show for their efforts as they go in search of an very very very very very very very very very very very very very (you get the idea...) unlikely 40-point win.

05:46 PM

60 mins: South Africa 24-14 Argentina               

Bryan Adams' 'The Summer of 69' is blaring out and there was just a Mexican Wave - someone should tell the fans there's a Test match going on...

The interlude as the TMO looks into a push from Eben Etzebeth on Gonzalez that possibly caused Boffelli to land awkwardly. The TMO decides it is dangerous play and the Boks are down to 14. That looked a bit harsh...

05:44 PM

57 mins: South Africa 24-14 Argentina               

Lienout for the Pumas just 10 metres out, they get it out wide but a knock-on five yards from the whitewash end any hope of a try.

Possession is key for the Boks and so far this half the visitors are dominating that stat.

05:41 PM


South Africa 24-14 Argentina

From the resulting lineout they create a rolling maul that the Pumas cannot handle, they charge towards the line and it's a penalty try. The maul was collapsed and Jeronimo de la Fuente (great name!) sees yellow. It's the Pumas' third sin binning of the match.

05:38 PM

53 mins: South Africa 17-14 Argentina             

The Boks are in the Argentina half, they have a scrum from which they earn a penalty. What do they do from here? Why, the kick for touch obviously!

05:32 PM

51 mins: South Africa 17-14 Argentina             

Lineout for Argentina on the South Africa 22, they somehow get it out after a maul but the hosts turnover the ball the next play. Still not seen the Boks as an attacking force since the break.

05:30 PM

49 mins: South Africa 17-14 Argentina           

Anyone think the Boks can win this by 40 points now?!

05:29 PM


South Africa 17-14 Argentina           

The Pumas are upping the tempo and looking the better side at the moment and as I type they spread the ball to the right and find Juan Martin Gonzalez who beats his man on the touchline before touching down in the corner - what a try and what a start to this half from the visitors.

Emiliano Boffelli nails the tough conversion and it's a three-point game.

05:25 PM

45 mins: South Africa 17-7 Argentina           

It's been all Argentina so far since the break. They are in the hosts' half and using the width of the field ultimately find Imhoff. They get to within a yard of the line but hold on and give away a penalty.

05:21 PM

42 mins: South Africa 17-7 Argentina         

Argentina start the half well - the hosts give away a penalty and the visitors kick for touch.

From the lineout the Pumas go down the short side and nearly pull it off but a great tackle bundles Montoya into touch a yard from the try line.

05:19 PM

40 mins: South Africa 17-7 Argentina         

The action is back under way in Durban. Big 40 minutes for the hosts are needed if they are to get their hands on the title.

05:05 PM

HALF-TIME: South Africa 17-7 Argentina

That's the half done - it's been scrappy error-strewn affair so far. But that try from the Pumas means the hosts' mountain to climb remains daunting. That 40-point winning margin is some way away.

Last week Argentina were the stronger in the second half, the Boks cannot afford for that to be the case today.

05:03 PM


South Africa 17-7 Argentina

A wonderful kick over the top from Carreras sets up an attack for the Pumas, they attack with more purpose and energy than before in this half and eventually the livewire scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou goes over from short range.

05:00 PM


South Africa 17-0 Argentina

Argentina have a chance of a counter off a South Africa up and under but another error, this time holding on, gifts the ball to the hosts.

The hosts, with an man advantage, decide to take the points...strange decision considering the penalty is on the halfway BUT Steyn has a huge boot on him and he nails the kick.

04:55 PM

34 mins: South Africa 14-0 Argentina       

It's the Pumas turn to kick for touch after South Africa, this time, are offside.

From the resulting lineout the visitors are in front of the posts just 10 yards out. The hosts are again offside and it's another penalty for Argentina, again they kick for touch.

From this lineout the visitors obstruct the Boks and a great opportunity to score a try is wasted. Yet another unforced, silly error.

04:50 PM


South Africa 14-0 Argentina       

Lineout for the Boks and this time they make it count as Siya Kolisi dives over the line after a clinical maul.

The Argentine dam wall is showing signs of breaking.

Styen adds the extras.

04:48 PM

27 mins: South Africa 7-0 Argentina       

The Boks are still enacmped in the Pumas' 22 as Le Roux goes over the line but is brilliantly by the Argentina lock pairing of Matias Alemanno and Tomas Lavanini.

The hosts are dominating but aren't translating that into the points they need to win the title.

04:45 PM

27 mins: South Africa 7-0 Argentina     

The hosts are encamped in the Pumas' 22, after another penalty gifted them by the visitors (this one a scrum penalty). There's another yellow card for Argentina as Juan Martín González is penalised for an offence at the driving maul.

04:43 PM

27 mins: South Africa 7-0 Argentina     

I've said it before and I am going to say it again - this is a scrappy affair with unforced errors preventing any real flow to the match.

04:42 PM

25 mins: South Africa 7-0 Argentina   

Another error from the Boks - this one a knock on from Marx - and the Pumas are gifted possession as Kremer comes back onto the pitch having served his 10-minute incarceration in the sin bin.

04:40 PM

22 mins: South Africa 7-0 Argentina   

They may be leading but the hosts have made a few errors already and they make another one as they drop the ball in their own half allowing the Pumas to kick and chase.

There have already been nine penalties in 23 minutes of rugby.

04:36 PM


South Africa 7-0 Argentina 

Scrum for South Africa five metres out in front of the posts - can they make this count? They got a great push on and they effectively walk in the try as No 8 Jasper Wiese touches down off the back of the set-piece. Finally points on the board.

Steyn converts to add the extras.

04:33 PM

17 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina 

From the resulting lineout the Boks spread the ball out, they have a penalty advantage, the visitors, a man down, are defending well. But there's another offside and it's another penalty for the Boks. Another penalty and you suspect the Pumas could be down to 13 men...

04:30 PM

16 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina 

A bit of good news for the Boks - Kremer is shown the yellow card after a string of penalties against the visitors - the hosts again kick for touch. Can they make this lineout count?

04:27 PM

14 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina

The constant pressure on the Argentina defence is telling, they concede another penalty and once again the hosts they kick for the corner BUT it's another mistake as Steyn misses touch and it's a 22 drop out for the Pumas. The Boks cannot afford to make silly, basic mistake such as that.

04:23 PM

12 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina

The hosts need to be more composed - it's bit scrappy at the moment and they cannot afford to make mistakes as they did with the disallowed try.

As I type the Boks are on the attack in the Pumas' 22 but the Argentina defence is fantastic and they steal the ball. Again, to state the obvious, not what the hosts wanted.

04:23 PM

11 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina

Disallowed try!

From the resulting lineout the Boks create a rolling maul, the Pumas do their best to stop it but it's in vain as Eben Etzebeth touches down in the corner. BUT the TMO chalks it off as the lock picked the ball from Kolisi from an offside position. The crowd aren't happy, as you'd expect.

04:20 PM

11 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina   

Penalty to South Africa on the edge of the 22 - unsurprisingly they kick for touch with the 40-point needed for the title.

04:18 PM

9 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina   

It's a bit stop, start at the  moment, no real flow to the game at present.

04:15 PM

6 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina 

Carreras  launches a huge up and under that Argentina collect before flicking it out to the left to Imhoff. The hosts nullify any danger but once again the Pumas are looking good and when needing to win by 40 this isn't the start the Boks would have wanted.

04:12 PM

4 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina 

Good start from Argentina, they've dominated the early territory and charge down a Steyn kick. From there they move the ball right but a knock-on from Carreras gifts the ball back to the hosts. A bit scrappy, yes, but still plenty of early good signs for the Pumas.

04:10 PM

2 mins: South Africa 0-0 Argentina

Steyn kicks straight into the arms of an Argentine before Santiago Carreras finds touch with a wonderful kick.

From the resulting lineout, in their own half, the host pass the ball down the line, but there's a stray pass. The visitors were offside, however, and the scrappy bit of play doesn't result in any points.

04:08 PM

1 min: South Africa 0-0 Argentina

They're under way in Durban as Steyn kicks off.

04:06 PM

Plenty of emotion in display

This promises to be a good, close match.

04:05 PM

It's national anthem time

Argentina's is a lovely, almost operatic number, you cannot help but smile upon hearing it. That's followed by  Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika which is easily in the top three national anthems in the world, rousing.

04:01 PM

The commentator has just said...

..."The Boks have it all to do." Bit of an understatement there.

But a 40-point win isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

03:59 PM

The teams are out on the pitch

And met with a wall of noise at this packed stadium.

03:48 PM


...For the hosts Frans Steyn starts at No 10 for the first time since 2008. Pieter-Steph du Toit comes in at openside. There is a lot of brute strength on the bench for the Boks with Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith and Bongi Mbonambi ready to come on if needed.

For the Pumas Wing Lucio Cinti is replaced by Juan Imhoff, with Matias Moroni in for Matias Orlando at centre.

03:44 PM

Here are the two XVs

SOUTH AFRICA XI TO FACE ARGENTINA: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Canan Moodie, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Frans Steyn, 9. Jaden Hendrikse, 1. Steven Kitshoff, 2. Malcolm Marx, 3. Frans Malherbe, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Lood de Jager, 6. Siya Kolisi (capt), 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8. Jasper Wiese.

Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Ox Nche, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Duane Vermeulen, 21. Kwagga Smith, 22. Faf de Klerk, 23. Kurt-Lee Arendse.

ARGENTINA XV TO FACE SOUTH AFRICA: 15. Juan Cruz Mallia, 14. Emiliano Boffelli, 13. Matias Moroni, 12. Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11. Juan Imhoff, 10. Santiago Carreras, 9. Gonzalo Bertranou, 1. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2. Julian Montoya (capt), 3. Eduardo Bello, 4. Matias Alemanno, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 6. Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7. Marcos Kremer, 8. Pablo Matera.

Replacements: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Mayco Vivas, 18. Joel Sclavi, 19. Guido Petti, 20. Pedro Rubiolo, 21. Tomas Cubelli, 22. Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23. Bautista Delguy.

03:35 PM

Here's how it looks going into the final match

03:34 PM

Always good to see a side turn up

You cannot win a game if you're not on the pitch

02:59 PM

South Africa left with a mountain to climb

South Africa go into their last Rugby Championship match against Argentina knowing exactly the height of the mountain they need to climb if they are to leapfrog the All Blacks and claim the title.

After New Zealand's 40-14 win over Australia this morning the Springboks have to beat the Pumas by more than 40 points to pip the seven-time winners of the expanded tournament to the trophy.

Speaking before this morning's match in Auckland the Springboks captain Siya Kolisi said that regardless of what unfolded this morning his side will be treating the clash again Argentina as a final.

"We’re definitely going to watch the morning (South Africa time) game – we need to know what happens in that match so that we know what we need to do against Argentina, and the same applies to them," Kolisi said.

"As things stand all four teams can still win the competition, but regardless of what happens in the match between Australia and New Zealand, it will still be a proper final for us and the Pumas."

Siya Kolisi taking on the Argentina defence last week - AFP
Siya Kolisi taking on the Argentina defence last week - AFP

The Boks had a game of two halves last weekend in Buenos Aires, where they outclassed their hosts in the first 40 minutes and would have led by more than 22-6 with better execution.

A huge fightback from Argentina after the interval put South Africa under intense pressure and only late tries in the final few minutes saw them claim a 36-20 victory.

"I don’t think they’ll change their mindset going into this game," Kolisi said. "Their scrums went well last week, and they would have worked on their mauls. And depending on the outcome of the other match, they may have a chance of winning the competition for the first time."

The last match of one of the most open and entertaining Rugby Championships ever gets under way at 4.05, stay here for all the pre-match build up and action.