The Springboks had to weather a fiercely committed onslaught from Argentina in front of 44 357 fans at Ellis Park Park on Saturday, when they spent long periods penned in their own half in the second half on the way to securing a second victory in the truncated competition.
It was far from a convincing victory, and which came just hours after the All Blacks thrashed Australia to walk away with the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship title.
As a result, the All Blacks have now pulled further away from South Africa in the World Rugby rankings, with the third-placed Kiwis now nearly two full points ahead of the Boks.
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France and Ireland are both well ahead of the Springboks as well, with the SA team now certain to be viewed as underdogs at the World Cup later this year.
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Coach Jacques Nienaber praised his team for not buckling under the pressure against Argentina after the yellow carding of Damian de Allende (for a deliberate knock on) with seven minutes remaining.
The Pumas scored their two tries in that period, but the second (to close the winning margin to one point) came long after the siren had sounded.
“We’re going to experience similar situations at the World Cup and to manage it in the way that Duane [Vermeulen] did at the end with the yellow card was very good,” said Nienaber.
“The amount of attitude the players had in defence was outstanding; the amount of attitude they had in their ball carrying was outstanding. We made a couple of mistakes with tactical and technical stuff but that the easy stuff we can fix.
“But making it personal with the defence and the ball carrying is what I was incredibly proud of. It wasn’t the nicest game, but it was good to grind out the win.”
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