Bryan Habana (Getty Images)
Cape Town – The Springboks claimed third spot at the 2015 Rugby World Cup after beating Argentina 24-13 in the Bronze Final at London’s Olympic Park stadium on Friday night.
After a promising start, which saw them lead 16-0 at half-time, the Boks struggled to assert their authority over a game Los Pumas outfit as the game eventually petered out into a dull affair.
The South Africans started like a house on fire, intent on running the ball from all quarters. They also had an early numerical advantage when Argentina scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli was sin-binned in the fourth minute for tackling opposite number Ruan Pienaar in an off-side position after the Bok No 9 had taken a quick tap following a penalty.
The Boks cashed in on their one-man advantage a minute later when wing JP Pietersen went over in the corner, with flyhalf Handre Pollard converting.
South Africa showed lots of intent and had opportunities for more tries, but could not cash in, with wing Bryan Habana missing several chances to set the new try-record in Rugby World Cups.
It appeared Habana had scored after following up on a clever chip-kick by Willie le Roux, only for replays to show an Argentine had dotted down before the Bok flyer.
Habana also dropped the ball cold in the 29th minute after a great break from Pollard and a few minutes later he was penalised for pulling down Argentina captain and flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez after both players had set sail for the tryline.
Habana also missed an intercept chance shortly before the break, but Pollard’s boot assured the Boks went into half-time comfortably ahead by 16 points.
The Pumas started the second half bright with Sanchez slotting an early drop goal to put his team on the board.
But the Boks were quick to hit back with lock Eben Etzebeth going over in the corner after taking a quick pass from Habana.
But that’s about where the excitement ended for Springbok fans as both teams, clearly tired after a long tournament, made several errors which left the crowd frustrated.
It was a Test to forget for a perhaps over-eager Habana, who also dropped an easy ball in the second period before eventually being put out his misery when Jan Serfontein replaced him after 67 minutes.
The Springboks had more attacking forays into the Argentine half, but could not capitalise against a brave Pumas defence.
Both coaches had cleaned out their benches as the game lost its structure, but the never-say-die Pumas had the last say when replacement prop Juan Pablo Orlandi went over after the hooter had sounded.
Tries: JP Pietersen, Eben Etzebeth
Conversion: Handre Pollard
Penalties: Pollard (4)
Try: Juan Pablo Orlandi
Conversion: Nicolas Sanchez
Drop goal: Sanchez
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolas Sanchez (captain), 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Javier Ortega Desio, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Juan Figallo
Substitutes: 16 Lucas Noguera, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Santiago Garcia Botta, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Martin Landajo, 21 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 22 Juan Pablo Socino