RugbyU: Steyn kicks unimpressive Springboks to narrow win
South Africa's Springboks' Morne Steyn strikes a penalty shot during the Rugby Championship 2013 match againts Argentina's Los Pumas at Malvinas Argentinas stadium in Mendoza, some 1050 km west of Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 24, 2013. A last-minute penalty by Steyn sealed an unimpressive 22-17 win for South Africa over Argentina.
After a humiliating 60-point defeat in Soweto last weekend, the passionate Pumas were the better side in chilly Mendoza for much of an error-strewn match and led until eight minutes from time.
Steyn slotted two penalties in the closing minutes to keep South Africa top of the table -- level on nine points with New Zealand but ahead on points difference.
Argentina gained a losing bonus point while Australia are bottom with none after losing 27-16 to New Zealand in Wellington earlier Saturday.
"We did not play too well," admitted Springboks skipper and centre Jean de Villiers after a Test at the ground where they were lucky to draw 16-16 last season.
"But let us give credit to Argentina for stopping us from imposing control over the game. I was hoping that we could play more expansively.
"The breakdown was a massive fight which both teams contested well, but we must sharpen up in that area before playing in Australia and New Zealand."
South Africa started with the same side that won 73-13 in the first round while Argentina made five changes and still lacked injured skipper and No. 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.
Desperate to put the huge loss behind them, the Pumas made a fiery start and were ahead within two minutes when flanker Juan Martin Leguizamon dived over in the corner.
The veteran took the ball after a line-out near the try-line, burst into the short side and swivelled past several Springboks to dot the ball down with centre Felipe Contepomi converting.
Argentina were struggling in the early scrums and South African pressure earned a penalty on nine minutes which ace goal-kicker Steyn placed between the posts.
Within two minutes a far more fired-up Pumas side than that of last weekend regained a seven-point advantage as veteran Contepomi kicked a penalty.
But South Africa drew level on 15 minutes as Steyn converted from the touchline a try by left-wing Bjorn Basson in the left corner at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.
After brave defending repelled several Springbok attempts to score in the right corner, Argentina failed to clear the ball and the visitors passed along the backline for Basson to sprint over.
Juandre Kruger went over the try-line soon after only for the score to be disallowed because fellow lock Eben Etzebeth had knocked on in an aerial duel.
South Africa opted to kick for touch a penalty well within the range of Steyn and Argentina drove the green and gold back to leave the visitors questioning the decision.
A Contepomi penalty drifted to the right from in front of the posts, but Argentina were back in front on 37 minutes when centre Marcelo Bosch dived over near the posts.
Patient multi-phase Pumas pressure took them within a few metres of the line and Bosch drove between centre JJ Engelbrecht and prop Jannie du Plessis for a try Contepomi converted.
Steyn narrowed the gap to four points in first-half stoppage time by kicking his second penalty and four minutes after half-time he repeated the feat to leave just one point between the sides.
With Contepomi replaced by Santiago Fernandez, Bosch took over as goal kicker and was not far off target with a long-range attempt midway through the second half.
Argentina led 17-16 with 20 minutes to go -- a far cry from seven days ago when the Springboks ran in nine tries for a record Rugby Championship victory.
There were just eight minutes left when South Africa gained the lead for the first time as prop Marcos Ayerza collapsed a maul and Steyn maintained his 100 percent goal-kicking record from the penalty.
Another Steyn penalty a minute into additional time sealed success for the Springboks, who trooped off knowing they will play better in future and lose.