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Pumas

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Argentina scrum

ACID TEST: The All Blacks’ pack will have to be at its best to deal with a powerful Argentina eight at scrum time on Saturday.

You can blame the goal kicker, you can blame the concession of daft technical penalties or a single colossal blunder at the wrong time.

It’s hard to argue. But the single main reason why Argentina’s strong men could dominate South Africa the other weekend and still end up losing was the train of Springbok replacements.

Coach Heyneke Meyer hooked beaten players from the pitch and sent on an eager second wave of men like Adriaan Strauss and Tendai ‘the Beast’ Mtawarira.

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TJ Perenara

SLIPPERY WHEN WET: All Black TJ Perenara catches the ball during a rain-affected training session in Napier.

Rarely do the All Blacks relish the chance to train in relentless rain and on a sodden pitch.

But when it comes to playing Argentina in New Zealand, those conditions have been a given in recent times, so today’s training at the Napier Old Boys Marist club may prove the perfect dress rehearsal for Saturday’s Rugby Championship test.

“We have a plan A and a plan B, but we have an eye on Saturday’s [forecast] and it looks like it’s going to be reasonably wet later in the week,” backs coach Ian Foster said.

“We’re going in with a plan that we want to play if the conditions are great, but our awareness of plan B is pretty high this week.”

The All Blacks are aware that they played poorly in the wet three weeks ago during a dour 12-12 draw with Australia in Sydney where they kicked too much and struggled with their handling.

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Conrad Smith

TOUGH TEST: Conrad Smith says the All Blacks will need to be smarter in coming to terms with Argentina’s unique style of rugby.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and it seems Conrad Smith has missed his old mate Ma’a Nonu during the midfield pair’s enforced break up.

The old firm has been closed for business since Smith broke his hand during the second June test against England, but seems likely to reopen for business against Argentina on Saturday.

Nonu and Malakai Fekitoa had a run during the third test thrashing of England in Hamilton, and again during a dour 12-12 draw against Australia in Sydney while Smith attended the birth of his first child.

Then in Auckland, Smith and Ryan Crotty teamed up for the Bledisloe Cup bash as Nonu sat out with a bruised shoulder.

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 Argentina

Argentina gave a good account of themselves in Hamilton last year and pride themselves on their work at the set piece.

Steve Hansen has challenged his forwards to repeat their devastating display against Australia when they meet Argentina in Napier on Saturday.

The All Blacks arrived in Hawkes Bay yesterday ahead of their Rugby Championship test against the Pumas, with coach Hansen wasting little time in putting the acid back on his big men as they prepare for what he called one of the best scrums in the game.

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Jacques Botes

Jacques Botes

Fortunately for the Cell C Sharks they have a good chance of redeeming themselves when they host struggling GWK Griquas in Durban this coming weekend, but the warning lights are flickering for the Absa Currie Cup champions.

There were excuses aplenty for the Sharks coaches after their 32-22 defeat to the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit in round four, and some of them were legitimate. Injuries did during the course of the game decimate their pack.

And let’s also not take anything away from the Pumas, who have been strong at home this season and also pushed the Sharks in the first round game much more than the final scoreline would suggest.

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Jimmy Stonehouse

Jimmy Stonehouse

With the Pumas having kept their home record in tact in the Currie Cup, coach Jimmy Stonehouse will be targeting away victories following their 32-22 victory over defending champions the Sharks in Mbombela on Friday evening.

“The sign of a good team is whether they can win away from home and although it was easier in the First Division we won all our away matches which is difficult in the Currie Cup Premier Division,” Stonehouse said.

“Our first aim is to get the bonus point when we are playing away. Obviously you go for the victory – but you hope things stick and come away with a win.”

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Renaldo Bothma

Renaldo Bothma

The Pumas defeated defending Currie Cup champions, the Sharks, 32-22 (half-time 18-9) at Mbombela Stadium on Friday night.

The hosts used their majority possession to score a four-try bonus point victory to move to the second place on the Currie Cup log.

Playing an exciting brand of rugby, the Lowveld-based side demonstrated how to win with an expansive mindset.

The Sharks initially did well to soak up the pressure from a probing Pumas attack by exiting well from their own half using flyhalf Fred Zeilinga’s clearance kicking to great effect.

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Jacques Botes

Personal milestone: Jacques Botes – 150 Currie Cup Caps

Veteran Sharks flank Jacques Botes will break new ground in the Currie Cup on Friday as he extends his appearance record to 150 matches, which will make him the first player to reach this milestone.

Botes will mark this achievement against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday — the team he first represented in the competition.

He made his provincial debut for the Pumas in 2002 and remained at the union until 2004 before joining the Sharks in 2005. Sharks coach Brad Mcleod-Henderson has handed scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann his first start, while Springbok lock Stephan Lewies continues his return from injury off the bench.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan has questioned whether the Springboks understand the nuances at scrums and breakdowns.

Despite winning 33-31 in Salta at the weekend, the Bok front row suffered humiliation at the hands of Argentina, with the reputations of Jannie du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp taking serious body blows.

Kaplan noted this when he analysed the Boks’ performance on his website, www.ratetheref.co.za.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

Not until we get into the next group of games will we have some perspective and context in which to put the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks’ forward strength will be tested when they take on the Pumas and their physicality will be tested against the Springboks.

A win in either away game will put the Bokke in a powerful position, the Wallabies will have to bounce back from their thumping defeat at Eden Park or face an exit from calculations, and we will find out how many of their bullets Argentina has fired already.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

For all the criticism I levelled against Argentina for their negative play in the Loftus Versfeld test, in stark contrast, they deserve a world of credit for their impressive display in Salta.

In theory, the second-ranked Springboks should have destroyed the side placed 12th in world rugby. However, in practice, three main factors determine the outcome of a match:

They are, your own team’s performance, the performance of the opposition and, last but not least, the standard of officiating delivered by the assigned referee on the day.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks have stuck largely with the same side that defeated Free State last week for Friday night’s Absa Currie Cup clash with the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

Among the backs, there is just one change where scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann gets his first start after playing off the bench last week, with Cameron Wright coming off the bench later in the game, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

Among the forwards, JC Astle is back from injury and partners with Etienne Oosthuizen in the second row in the absence of Marco Wentzel, while the front row trio of Matt Stevens, Kyle Cooper and Dale Chadwick remains the same from last week as do the loosies, captain Tera Mtembu, Francois Kleinhans and Jacques Botes .

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Argentine scrum

The Argentine scrum in action.

When on song, the Bajada is basically pornography to us flat eared folk who have done battle in the front row.

And on Saturday against the Boks, it was at its titillating best!

There are two defining characteristics of the Bajada – a scrum technique used by the Argentinians … One is that all the power is directed into the hooker, meaning that they scrum as an imaginary arrow pointing inwards from either side of the 8th man.

The other, and perhaps more important characteristic of the Bajada, is the ‘coordinated push’, which sees them act on a three part call.

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Argentina scrum

How Jannie Du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp saw the Argentina scrum

There are two things that we can take from the second round of the Rugby Championship 2014.

  1. The All Blacks are clearly not ‘on the slide’. In fact if anything they are on the up and up and all the 12-all draw did was to inspire them to dick punch the Wallabies in their faces, hard.
  2. The Pumas’ ‘Bajada’ scrum is a thing of beauty, unless you are the Springboks, then it is a thing of nightmares.

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Argentina Pumas

Heading overseas: Argentina Pumas

Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade has named his touring squad for the Rugby Championship fixtures in Australia and New Zealand.

The majority of the squad that tackled South Africa over the last two weeks remain, with the addition to the touring party of Juan Imhoff, Benjamín Macome and Santiago Iglesias Valdez.

The only major absentee is Pablo Matera, who suffered a partial dislocation to his shoulder against the Springboks in Salta. Argentina will return to their training base in Pacheco on Thursday before flying out on Friday, arriving at in Napier the following day to prepare to take on the All Blacks.

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Sibusiso "S'Bura" Sithole

Sibusiso “S’Bura” Sithole

The Cell C Sharks look likely to be without outside centre S’bura Sithole when they play their return ABSA Currie Cup match against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday night.

Sithole has been battling a rib injury and is in doubt for the match. Heimar Williams will replace him if he is not cleared to play. Otherwise the rest of the Sharks players are fit, with there being a possibility that key lineout forward Stephan Lewies will be added to the mix for a starting place this week.

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Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager, the ‘next big thing’ in the Springbok second row, has been ‘missing in action’ of late.

De Jager, after a series of stand-out performances for the Cheetahs in this year’s Super Rugby tournament, made his debut in the Green and Gold against Wales in Durban during the Incoming Series and currently has five Test caps to his name.

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Jean De Villiers

Jean De Villiers

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is clear that his team need to take a massive step up before they face the Wallabies in Perth in their next Castle Lager Rugby Championship game on 6 September.

The Bok captain arrived home from the great Salta escape – where the Boks needed a penalty four minutes from time to beat a plucky, aggressive Argentinean team – knowing that the weight of public outrage at the result would be waiting for his team.

But De Villiers is a pragmatist, and, as he points out: it wasn’t the greatest of performances, but a win is a win.

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Frans Malherbe

Frans Malherbe in action for the Boks against Argentina

Frans Malherbe will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship after sustaining a serious injury to his right ankle in Salta.

Malberbe helped to stabilise the Bok scrum when he replaced Jannie du Plessis in the 46th minute, but was forced to leave the field in the 79th.

The tighthead prop will consult with a specialist in Cape Town upon his return to South Africa, when a call on further treatment and his replacement will be made.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Taking their heads out of the sand and admitting that there is a massive problem with the scrum would be a good start, but the Springbok self-analysis will have to go far further than that if the problems that were exposed by Argentina are not to lead to crisis later in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

On a Saturday when New Zealand comprehensively swept away any doubt that they remain the team to beat and confirmed the pre-tournament predictions that they should retain their hegemony in southern hemisphere rugby, Salta provided evidence that the creaks that started to show themselves in the South African game in the second test against Wales may not have just been an aberration.

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Kobus van Wyk

WP flyer, Kobus van Wyk

Surprise, surprise… there are the Sharks and Western Province, back dominating Currie Cup rugby.

Many changes could still happen, of course, given that the 2014 competition is not quite a third of the way through the pre-knockout phase, but it is interesting nevertheless that the two coastal powers have already seized just a hint of a grip.

It will only increase speculation that the pair may be set for a third successive meeting in the final this year, something that has not happened since the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs met in each of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 showpieces.

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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says Boks’ the scrum performance against Argentina at the weekend was a bit embarrassing.

The Boks sneaked a 33-31 win but was completely overpowered in the scrums, with Jannie du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp having a nightmare Test.

Mallett was speaking in the SuperSport studio after the game and had the following to say:

“There were lots and lots of issues that we need to talk about. The Boks have got real problems with their front row’s scrummaging, particularly against the Argentines.

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Gurthro Steenkamp

Gurthro Steenkamp, getting massacred on and off the field.

Several retired Springbok front-rankers took to Twitter over the weekend to offer their varied takes on the national team’s scrummaging humiliation at the hands of Argentina in Salta.

The Boks summoned last-ditch reserves of energy and grit to squeeze past the Pumas 33-31 in a Castle Rugby Championship nail-biter, although the violent way they back-pedalled in the scrums at times will be a lasting, unpleasant memory for the players and their fans alike.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer, the coach of the team with the most “character” in the world.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer hailed the character of his team Sunday in the wake of a lucky 33-31 Rugby Championship victory over Argentina in Salta.

Serial match-winner Morne Steyn ignored whistling and booing to slot a penalty three minutes from time and give the Springboks a second win over the Pumas within eight days.

It was the climax of a stirring last-quarter comeback by the visitors as tries from right-wing Cornal Hendricks and flank Marcell Coetzee wiped out a 12-point deficit.

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Agustin Creevy

Agustin Creevy

Argentina captain Agustin Creevy bemoaned the fact that his team did not have the nous and fortitude to close out the game when they had a big lead.

Flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked a penalty three minutes from time to earn South Africa a very fortuitous 33-31 win over the Pumas at the 20,000-seater Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena in Salta at the weekend.

Trailing by 12 points with the final quarter approaching, a Springboks side – given a torrid time in the forward exchanges for much of the match – clawed back to snatch victory.

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Rapport KaartNogmaals broekskeur, nogmaals Morné Steyn en die reserwes wat Suid-Afrika se kastaiings uit die vuur moes kom krap.

Dít nadat die Bokke gister vir sowat ’n uur vodde gespeel is deur Argentinië in die tweede kragmeting van hul Rugbykampioenskap.

Suid-Afrika was met 33-31 baas, maar Harry Houdini sou trots gewees het op só ’n ontsnapping. Laat drieë deur die immer gewillige Cornal Hendricks en die reserwe-flank Marcell Coetzee het die oënskynlik onvermydelike gety omgedraai, maar die ooms tuis sou strykdeur gryp na die hartmedisyne.

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South AfricaMorné Steyn kicked a pressure penalty four minutes from time to secure a nailbiting 33-31 win for the Springboks over the Argentina Pumas in their Castle Lager Rugby Championship match in Salta on Saturday night.

Coach Heyneke Meyer likes character tests and his team most certainly passed this one as for the second time in four matches they came from more than a double figure score behind to win at the death.

However, Meyer will have added to the grey hairs on his head for it was a desperately tense affair and there were enough weak points in the Bok game to keep him awake at night mulling over his options ahead of the next match against Australia in Perth.

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Cell C SharksA long-range penalty by Fred Zeilinga four minutes from time helped the Sharks snatch a last-ditch 19-16 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup clash at Kings Park on Saturday night.

The home flyhalf kicked 14 points in total, with the other five coming through a late try by Tonderai Chavhanga.

However, the visitors will rue what might have been after leading the game for most of the evening thanks to a brilliant Clayton Blommetjies’ try and the boot of Willie du Plessis.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers has said that he is hoping that his team can dominate in the forwards like they are used to ahead of Saturday’s game against Argentina in Salta.

The Springboks have been famed for the physicality since the inception of the game in the Republic with the forwards often being the heroes on game day.

The Springbok captain is calling for that famed physicality to take centre stage again on the weekend so that the Boks can play their natural game.

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Steval PumasGWK GriquasPumas (11) 33 / 15 (12) Griquas (Final Score)

The Steval Pumas and GWK Griquas did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division at

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

*******************

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ArgentinaArgentina have made two changes to the starting team for the return Rugby Championship match against South Africa in Salta on Saturday.

Centre Juan Martin Hernandez, a late withdrawal from the side defeated 13-6 in Pretoria last weekend, returns at inside centre in place of Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias.

The other change is also in the backline with Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino coming in on the right wing for Horacio Agulla.

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Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager

The Springboks made three changes to their starting XV, with two of them effecting the line-out structures – which already appeared weak in Pretoria last week.

The line-out has long been a strength of the Boks, and a lot of this dominance in the set pieces can be attributed to the maestro that is Victor Matfield.

The veteran lock was sorely missed last weekend when the Boks’ line-out struggled, in albeit poor conditions, against the Argentineans at Loftus Versfeld.

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