The Springboks opened their Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign with a bonus point victory over Argentina at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday, but earned only qualified praise from Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus.
The Boks scored six tries to three, with speedsters Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi crossing for two tries each, while Lukhanyo Am and Faf de Klerk also scored. Handre Pollard converted two of the tries.
“The only positive was the first 30 minutes in the second half; it was the only decent rugby we played,” said Erasmus of the 34-21 victory.
“I was expecting that we wouldn’t produce a completely fluent display, but the first half was worse than I thought. Thankfully Siya (Kolisi) and the boys picked it up after the break.
“We lost a few lineouts that were crucial and there were some technical errors but for all of that it was a dominant performance, but it wasn’t the crispest performance. Technically and tactically we weren’t on par today.”
Pumas coach Mario Ledesma meanwhile handed out high praise to the dominant Springbok pack describing them as “the most physical team in the world by far”.
He said: “They kept playing direct physical footie and it’s like a dam; if you keep hammering, hammering eventually the wall will break.”
Erasmus picked out the fact that the win could have been more comfortable: “The lineouts we lost in their 22 were a problem – we were down there five times and we didn’t capitalize in the first half. That was the most frustrating thing.
“But you have to look at the positive – there is some gelling to be done in this team but as long as the effort is there it will come and we saw good effort.”
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said the main focus now for the team would be on recovery and cutting out the mistakes for the return match in Mendoza on Saturday.
“Our discipline set us back a bit and we missed a few opportunities but the best thing was our intensity. We always want to get better and better and we’ll be focusing on that this week,” said Kolisi.
Erasmus said he planned to make changes: “They know what we’re about now and we’ll make a few changes to the team – four of five changes – as we’re expecting a massive physical onslaught; they are fuming.
“They have always been tough there – but we got five points out of this game; not the most beautiful and perfect game but we’re well in it. Going there I don’t think we have the luxury of experimenting.”
Meanwhile Ledesma was asked how it was possible to stop the Springbok pack: “Maybe if they get sick or something,” he said.