Rugby 4 Nations: ARG vs SA - 23 August 2014 - Salta: PREVIEW
The main reason given for the low scoring first game between the Springboks and Argentina was the inclement weather which made handling the ball very difficult. Be that as it may I believe that the difference between the two teams should have been more than what the scoreboard reflected in the end. The final score of 13-6 meant that if the Argentinians was able to score in those final moments if would have been a draw. In my opinion the Springboks should have been able to at least grind out another try making the final score a respectable 18-6.
This coming weekend is however going to be a totally different ball game. It is going to be a warm summers day in Salta making the likelihood for an expansive open game very high. This possibility will not make Argentina excited or happy at all. They will do their best to disrupt the flow of the Springboks’ game by slowing the ball down at the breakdown. A guy like Juan Martin Fernandex Lobbe is a master at this making himself a nuisance ever so often. But I find it hard to believe that doing this will swing things the Argentinians way. Another trump card the Argentinians had in Pretoria was the set pieces specifically the scrums as well as the lineouts. This should not be the case again in Salta as the conditions won’t be the same and also given the fact that the Springboks have brought in Steenkamp and Etzebeth to ensure more strength in the scrums and accuracy in the lineouts. The return of Juan Martin Hernandez for the Pumas at inside centre will give the backline the experience they will desperately need especially on defence. I predict a long hard afternoon for Argentina.
The Springboks on the other hand will be licking their lips at the prospect of a first 4 try bonus point victory in Argentina since the start of the Rugby Championship. Previously they have only managed a draw and a victory by 5 points. In both instances the Springboks were not allowed to play their own brand of rugby. They were forced into mistakes and got frustrated with the disruptive Argentinians. The 2014 Springboks is however a different and more composed team. The one criticism the Springboks have had (well, by myself anyway) is that they lack pace among the loose forwards and will get run down if the game gets too quick. Enter Juan Smith. Although the game has changed a lot the value of a player such as himself has not. He is the classic blindside flanker and does not only what is expected of him but even more than that. Furthermore there will not be any confusion on the field in terms of who does what as Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen are also specialists in their own fields. Steenkamp and Etzebeth will add what is needed in front. The unchanged backline is also another exciting prospect. In Pretoria only Ruan Pienaar was able to contribute but this coming weekend will be a totally different case. The conditions will also perfectly suit Handre Pollard who needs to show the selectors that he is the right choice and also a more complete flyhalf than Morne Steyn.
I expect the Springboks to have it pretty much their own way coming out victors in the end by 35-10 including the four tries needed for a bonus point.