South Africa enjoyed what turned out to be a comfortable win over Argentina in the opening round of The Rugby Championship, and will now set their sights on winning on Argentinian soil this weekend. The Springboks were beaten on their last trip there, almost exactly a year ago, and will hope to avoid losing consecutive away fixtures to the Pumas for the first time ever.
Since Argentina’s win in Durban in 2015, the teams have met five times and on paper there is little to suggest why the Pumas have only managed to pick up one win from those games.
In attack, Argentina have averaged more carries, metres, breaks, defenders beaten and offloads than South Africa across those five meetings. They’ve spent over seven minutes more on the ball on average, yet crucially, it is South Africa who have recorded more tries, showing just how clinical the opposition can be in The Rugby Championship. Argentina, on the other hand, should be buoyed by the fact that their ball-in-hand game in general play is strong, and it’s just a matter of being able to take chances more efficiently that needs improvement.
Defensively, the Springboks have performed slightly better than Argentina in the contact area over their last five games, and have proven to be the more effective side when it comes to winning turnovers – averaging almost three per game more than the Pumas.
Argentina have also been a victim of indiscipline though. They conceded the most of any team in the opening round of The Rugby Championship, and this has been a trend in their last five outings against the Boks, conceding over four penalties per game more than South Africa. They’ve also received four yellow cards in those five games, spending 40 minutes with 14 men on the pitch. The Springboks will know, though, that they too need to keep penalties to a minimum when facing Argentina, as Nicolas Sanchez has proven to be one of the most effective goal kickers in the tournament since Argentina joined in 2012.
The Argentinian pack will be disappointed with how they’ve fared against the Springboks when it comes to the set piece. Many teams would struggle against South Africa, however Argentina usually boast a proud record at scrum and lineout and their forwards will be aiming to make sure they improve on their recent record against South Africa.
Argentina have no reason to panic just yet, however they must improve on their discipline and set piece when they host the Springboks, while South Africa will be aiming for more of the same this weekend. Whatever happens it is sure to be a tight game – their last two meetings in Salta have been decided by just two points on each occasion with both teams winning one apiece.