Argentina Under 20s withstood a second half comeback from South Africa to win a hotly-contested mach 27-22 in Buenos Aires on Saturday and clinch a 2-1 series win over the Junior World Championship 2012 winners.
Los Pumitas had won the second of the three match tour 42-27 a few days earlier in Corrientes and were once again quickly out of the blocks to establish a 17-0 lead after half an hour with tries from centre Joaquín Paz and full back Santiago Cordero.
Tries either side of half-time from captain and prop Neethling Fouchè and scrum half Stefan Ungerer brought the Baby Boks back into the match, but a try from the again impressive Patricio Fernández ensured the home side were never behind.
Fernández, who had kicked 27 points in the victory earlier in the week, also kicked two penalties and two conversions for another haul of 17 points to help Los Pumitas to another morale-boosting win ahead of JWC 2013 in France.
“We achieved the victories we were looking for, facing the world champions and we showed that we are growing. After winning last Tuesday, the game on Saturday was a bigger challenge, and we did very well,” said coach Bernardo Urdaneta.
Try-scorer Cordero added: “We showed that the first victory wasn’t just good luck. We are very happy for winning, but we have to continue improving, because we haven’t won anything yet.”
Building a new squad
The matches between the two sides have become a traditional part of their preparations for the IRB Junior World Championship with both recording best ever finishes in 2012, South Africa ending New Zealand’s title dominance and Argentina reaching the semi-finals for the first time.
One positive that South Africa coach Dawie Theron will take from the tour, which began with a 26-3 win over an Argentina Under 20 XV, will be the fact they outscored their opponents on the try front in every match.
“We came very close in both matches and I know our guys have learnt a lot from this tour. Results are what count in the end, but we must keep in mind that this is essentially a new squad and we managed to give everyone a chance to play,” said Theron.
“I am pleased that we were able to keep our discipline in check and managed to create enough opportunities to score four tries.”
Theron will name the 28-man squad charged with defending the IRB Junior World Championship title on Friday, with the Baby Boks set to face hosts France, England and IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2012 winners USA in the pool stages.
Argentina, meanwhile, will face Wales, Scotland and Samoa in Pool C with only the winner guaranteed a place in the last four.