Argentina continued their preparations for the IRB Junior World Championship 2013 with a morale-boosting 42-27 win over defending champions South Africa in Corrientes on Tuesday.
Los Pumitas, who were the surprise package of JWC 2012 in reaching the semi-finals for the first time, enjoyed the perfect start with prop Lucas Noguera Paz touching in the first minute of the match.
The hosts increased their advantage to 26-0 by the 34th minute with a try by Joaquín Paz – one of five JWC 2012 veterans in the Los Pumitas’ starting line-up – and the accurate boot of fly half Patricio Fernández with two conversions, three penalties and a drop goal.
South Africa, who had made wholesale changes from their opening 26-3 win over an Argentina Under 20 XV last weekend, mounted a comeback with tries from second row by Irné Herbst and full back Jacques Rossouw to cut the deficit to 26-12 at half-time in north east Argentina.
Within seven minutes of the restart the Baby Boks trailed 26-24 after replacement Sylvian Mahuza and Seabelo Senatla – who helped South Africa win the Tokyo Sevens last month – touched down.
There was to be no fairytale comeback though as the game swung back in Argentina’s favour with three penalties from the impressive Fernández – who finished with 27 points – and a try from replacement Emiliano Boffelli making certain of victory.
Battling for every ball
“We knew this match was going to be different than the first one, and the players had a very good performance. We still have to work on the discipline, because the moment we had 14 players on the field, South Africa scored points. We really deserved the victory. The players did their best to make the game a great one,” said Argentina coach Rodolfo Ambrosio.
Patricio Fernández added: “I’m very happy for our victory, I still can’t believe it. Despite the problems with discipline, we played a great game. We have players that fight and battle every ball and this is very important in these kind of matches. I hope we can do even better in La Plata.”
South Africa coach Dawie Theron was able to find positives in the defeat.
"They had a good start and managed to keep possession and momentum for a long period in the first half. We fought back very well before and after half-time but they managed to regain the upper hand just before the end. The guys would have a learnt a lot from the experience and we are looking forward to what promises to be another tough challenge on Saturday.”
The two teams will meet again in La Plata on Saturday in the final match of the warm-up tour which has become an annual event between the two countries as they fine tune preparations for the Junior World Championship. The tour began with the Baby Boks beating an Argentina Under 20 XV 26-3 in wet conditions last weekend.
South Africa face a tricky pool at JWC 2013 with hosts France, England and Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012 winners USA in Pool A, while Argentina will tackle Wales, Samoa and Scotland in Pool C. The other pool brings together New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Fiji.