Pumas Pouncing On Third Place
South Africa v Argentina
South Africa’s World Cup got off to a terrible start with a disastrous defeat to Japan, but they recovered from that shock to register victories over Samoa, Scotland and the United States to top their Pool.
They edged out a battling Welsh side in the quarter-finals and then put up a stirring effort against the world champions in the semi-finals, leading 12-7 at half-time but falling to a strong New Zealand second half comeback.
Argentina has been one of the most impressive sides in the tournament. They gave New Zealand a scare in their opener and beat Georgia, Tonga and Namibia to reach the last eight, where they produced a thrilling display against Ireland to earn their second semi-final appearance. They fought hard against Australia, but a try from Adam Ashley-Cooper eight minutes from time ended their World Cup dream.
South African coach Heyneke Meyer suggested in the aftermath of the semi-final defeat to New Zealand that this third-place game was meaningless, and although that may have been the disappointment talking, we can’t be sure how strong a team he will put out.
Lock Victor Matfield will be playing his last game in a Springbok shirt, but captain Fourie du Preez is unlikely to feature after suffering a serious face injury.
Argentina will be taking this game seriously, but coach Daniel Hourcade will have to do without three important players who picked up injuries in the semi-final. Captain Agustin Creevy limped off with a hamstring strain, Juan Martin Hernandez suffered a rib injury and star full back Juan Imhoff took a blow to the head.
The head-to-head record between these two nations has a one-sided look. Since their first meeting in 1993, South Africa has won 19 out of 21 encounters, including their last match, in August this year, when the Springboks prevailed 26-12 in Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s only successes against South Africa have come in the last three years.
The first came in the summer of 2012, when they held a touring Springboks side to a 16-16 draw in Mendoza to end a run of 14 consecutive defeats. The second came just under three months ago, when they pulled off a famous 37-25 victory in Durban, thanks to three tries from Juan Imhoff.
South Africa are strong favourites, but I think the value lies with their opponents. Third-place may be a disappointment for Meyer’s side, but would still represent a good finish for the Pumas, and it’s worth remembering that the Springboks have had to battle through consecutive tight matches against Wales and New Zealand.
Back Argentina at 9/4 in the Match Betting market, and don’t forget, if you have a bet in the first tryscorer market, BoyleSports will give you your money back as a free bet if the first try of the game is not converted.