August 26, 2012
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Pumas dispel fears by holding lucky Boks

Newcomers Argentina dispelled fears that they could be out of their depth in the Rugby Championship by holding lucky South Africa 16-16 Saturday in the second round.

Fielding virtually the same side well beaten in Cape Town last weekend, the Pumas were vastly improved and led 16-6 early in the second half at the Estadio Mundialista Malvinas Argentinas.

A Morne Steyn penalty cut the deficit to seven points before Francois Steyn charged down a kick by Marcelo Bosch and raced through to touch down for a converted try.

It was a bitter-sweet day for Argentina in front of a near-capacity crowd in the 45,000-seater as they ended a run of 14 consecutive losses against the Springboks since the first Test between them in Buenos Aires 19 years ago.

But happiness at banishing the jinx was mixed with disappointment at not winning a game they controlled for long stages through superb commitment in the tackle and at the breakdown.

"There was a massive improvement from Cape Town so I am disappointed that we did not win and this match demonstrated how fine a line there is between winning and drawing," said Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

"We wanted so badly to win before our supporters and it was an awesome occasion -- being the first Pumas team to play at home in this Championship is something we will remember with pride for the rest of our lives."

South Africa skipper Jean de Villiers said: "We have only ourselves to blame as there were scoring opportunities wasted. Once again I have to admit that we must take a long, hard look at our individual displays.

"Australia away is going to be a different story and we must cut out the niggly stuff that marred our performance," he said ahead of a September 8 third-round clash with the Wallabies in Perth.

Argentina led 13-3 at half-time against subdued opponents and it took South Africa 57 minutes to threaten a try only for Patricio Albacete to turn the ball over with the Springboks deep inside the 22.

Both teams will rue missed kicks at goal with Martin Rodriguez kicking three penalties and converting a Santiago Fernandez try, but fluffing two other penalty attempts.

Morne Steyn also made a 11-point contribution via three penalties and a conversion, but failed twice, including a late chance to win the Test with a penalty kick near the touchline.

World champions New Zealand were 22-0 home winners over Australia earlier Saturday and top the table with eight points after two rounds followed by South Africa with six, Argentina with two and Australia are pointless.

AFP

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