Red Springboks stretch winning run to five matches

Salta (Argentina) (AFP) –


South Africa celebrated wearing a red outfit for the first time by defeating Argentina 41-23 in the Rugby Championship in Salta Saturday and stretching a winning run to five matches.

The change from the traditional green and gold or second-choice white was to celebrate 25 years of rugby unity in a country where the sport was run on racial lines during apartheid.

All the national flag colours -- black, blue, green, red, white and yellow -- have been used either in playing or training kit this season.

Victory took South Africa to the top of the standings after two rounds, ahead of arch rivals New Zealand on points difference.

The Springboks led 17-10 at half-time in a match of four yellow cards and a red for Argentina lock Tomas Lavanini on the hour.

Argentina were first to score in the northwestern city with winger Emiliano Boffelli slotting a long-range penalty on four minutes.

Fly-half Elton Jantjies fluffed two chances to level soon after at a near-full 20,000-seat Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena with the penalty attempts veering left.

The home side were reduced to 14 men after nine minutes when Lavanini was sin-binned for a no-arms charge on prop Coenie Oosthuizen.

Despite being numerically handicapped, the Pumas squandered two great chances to increase the lead soon after.

Winger Ramiro Moyano intercepted a Francois Hougaard pass in the Argentine 22, but lacked the pace to go all the way and was held short of the Springboks line.

He did get the ball back, though, and fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez overhit a cross-field kick into touch when there was a two-man Argentina overlap.

South Africa went ahead midway through the opening half when a training-ground move worked to perfection and flanker Siya Kolisi scored a try which Jantjies converted.

A perfectly weighted Jantjies kick found space behind the Argentine defence and centre Jesse Kriel picked up and passed to Kolisi, who scored between the posts.

Argentina were struggling at scrum time, as they did when beaten in Port Elizabeth last weekend, and fell seven points behind when Jantjies kicked a penalty.

But South Africa fell asleep from the kick-off, failed to grasp a bouncing ball and Moyano grabbed the ball and scored a try Hernandez converted for a 10-10 scoreline.

An Andries Coetzee try was correctly disallowed for a forward pass and number eight Juan Manuel Leguizamon was sin-binned after the Argentine pack had received several warnings.

A minute before half-time, the Springboks regained the lead when Jantjies stretched an arm to dot down, then converted his try for a 17-10 half-time lead.

After a Hernandez penalty trimmed the deficit, South Africa took a 31-13 advantage thanks to a second Kolisi try converted by Jantjies and a seven-point penalty try.

The penalty try resulted from a deliberate knock-on by Lavanini, for which he got a second yellow card followed by an automatic red.

As tempers boiled over, two mini-brawls erupted and the second resulted in a yellow card for Coetzee.

Argentina clawed their way back into the game through a Joaquin Tuculet try converted by substitute fly-half Nicolas Sanchez and a second long-range penalty from Boffelli.

Jantjies eased the pressure with his second penalty for a 34-23 lead eight minutes from time and converted a late try from replacement loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez.