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South Africa fall short to hand New Zealand Rugby Championship title

South Africa fall short to hand New Zealand Rugby Championship title

New Zealand have won the 2022 Rugby Championship title as South Africa could only manage a 38-21 victory over Argentina in their final game of the campaign in Durban this afternoon.

The All Blacks’ dominant 40-14 victory over Australia earlier in the day had left South Africa knowing that only a bonus-point win by 39 points or more would be enough for them to pinch the title from New Zealand’s grasp.

It never looked like being the type of free-flowing game which the Springboks may have needed to run out such convincing winners, though, as Los Pumas frustrated them for large parts of a stop-start and ill-disciplined contest.

Six yellow cards were shown overall, including four for Argentina, but the Boks could not fully capitalise on numerous numerical advantages, with two of their five scores being penalty tries.

The 17-point triumph means that Jacques Nienaber‘s side finish second in the final standings, one point behind New Zealand, while Argentina prop up the rest despite a largely positive campaign which saw them beat Australia at home and New Zealand away.

South Africa faced an uphill battle from the off following New Zealand’s dominant win over Australia earlier in the day, and their hopes of chasing down the required total were not helped by some unforced errors and stubborn Argentine defence in the opening exchanges.

Francois Steyn at fly-half was guilty of missing touch twice and seeing a kick charged down inside his own 22, all in the first 15 minutes, but the Springboks’ relentless pressure eventually told with the first try after 18 minutes when Jasper Wiese touched down for his first international try after a push-over scrum.

While Argentina’s defence was obdurate, it was not particularly disciplined as they had two men sent to the bin in the first half, both of which were punished by South African scores.

Los Pumas’ second yellow card came shortly before Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi went over for the hosts’ second try, but with 15 on 15 it was the visitors who edged the first half courtesy of Gonzalo Bertranou‘s converted try on the stroke of half time.

Considering their numerical advantages and dominance in terms of possession and territory, South Africa will have been disappointed to only go into half time with a 17-7 lead, leaving them still needing four second-half converted tries and a penalty to dethrone the All Blacks.

The prospects of pulling that off faded even further when Juan Martin Gonzalez stepped his man and went over for Argentina seven minutes after the restart, cutting South Africa’s lead to three.

A penalty try edged the Boks 10 points ahead again, followed by a third Argentina yellow card of the game, but South Africa then had two players sent to the bin themselves as a stop-start contest failed to get going.

The hosts’ hopes of chasing down New Zealand’s points difference was then all but ended 11 minutes from time as Matias Moroni went over for Argentina, leaving South Africa in a battle to win the game itself rather than worrying about usurping the All Blacks.

The Boks did do enough to claim that win, helped by a second penalty try and fourth Argentina yellow before Kurt-Lee Arendse went over for a fifth score with the clock red.

However, they never seriously threatened the required winning margin as they fall short of Rugby Championship glory, handing New Zealand the trophy for a third successive year.

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