Argentina came agonisingly close to securing a maiden win in the Rugby Championship on the weekend, drawing 16-all with South Africa in Mendoza.
A passionate home crowd welcomed the Springboks to Argentina, as Los Pumas hosted their first ever game in the Southern Hemisphere’s premier competition, and the players responded in kind, producing a fiercely competitive, physical contest.
While Argentina looked predictably content to kick for territory and collect their points in groups of three, there were the first side to dot down, taking a gift-wrapped opportunity mid-way through the first half, and helping them to a ten point lead at the break.
The home-side retained the lead until the last quarter, when a charge-down resulted in a try to Franz Steyn, the resulting conversion tying the sides at 16-16, which was to be the final score.
In Auckland, the All Blacks kept the Wallabies score-less and ensured the Bledisloe Cup would spend another year with the NZRFU, winning 22-0.
While it was the first time in 50+ years that the Wallabies had failed to trouble the scoreboard operators against the All Blacks the end result, if anything, flattered the visitors. The All Blacks were dominant, and were it not for some courageous defence on their own line the margin could have been huge.
If nothing else the weekend’s results have set up some enticing encounters in the coming weeks. Can the beleaguered Wallabies beat Los Pumas, or will they become the Argentinians first Championship scalp? Will the draw in Mendoza spark the Springboks in to action, and can the World Champions win in the Republic?