South Africa vs Argentina: Bronze Final Preview

South Africa vs Argentina: Bronze Final Preview

The Springboks gave their semi-final everything they had physically and emotionally, but lost to the All Blacks.

Los Pumas gave their semi-final everything they had physically and emotionally and offered every iota of rugby skill and intelligence they have, but lost to the Wallabies.

Now comes the match so often an anti-climax – what is officially called the ‘Bronze Final’ to determine third and fourth place.

“It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister,” says Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

But Pumas captain Agustin Creevy (now one of their injured players) has a different perspective: "I don't know why he said that. I would rather be third than fourth. We want to be in the top three. The third-place playoff means a lot.”

Again, unless South Africa has a change in game strategy, we will see a contrast in approaches, with the Boks playing physically intense, running-into-contact rugby, waiting for penalties, while Argentina – even with their depleted squad – are committed to an open game, moving the ball and running at their opponents, varying their attack to manipulate defence.

Veteran Pumas flank Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe believes “people like open rugby….that is the way we believe you can score tries. We're happy to make people proud of the way we play, because that is how rugby should be played…just enjoy it and throw the ball around. I am very excited about it…”

Argentina will play the attacking game to which they’ve adapted from a previously forwards-oriented game-plan. The Springboks have such abundant skill, but restrict themselves to a narrowly structured game-plan. Dare we hope for the Bok players being allowed free rein to exhibit their ball-playing, attacking skills?

Key players:
For South Africa, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, who replaces Fourie du Preez, their superbly talented young midfield duo, who could go on to play many Test matches together as a centre pair, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel, plus openside Francois Louw, consistently outstanding through the tournament. For Argentina, the magnificent ballplayer and goalkicker Nicolas Sanchez at 10 (captain for the day), dangerous attacking wing Santiago Cordero, counter-attacking fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, and Lobbe, an internationally highly regarded flank.

The big match-ups:
The scrummaging battles: Beast Mtawarira vs Ramiro Herrera and Frans Malherbe vs Marcos Ayerza. At 9, Pienaar vs Tomas Cubelli and then Martin Landajo, both classy performers. At 12, De Allende vs Jeronimo de la Fuente, and out wide Cordero vs Bryan Habana. 

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