Argentina v South Africa preview: Springboks to spoil the Buenos Aires send-off

Argentina and South Africa lock horns for a second weekend in a row as the two sides clash in their first Rugby World Cup warm-up game following the conclusion of the Rugby Championship.

Little split the pair last weekend, with the Springboks securing a 22-21 win at Ellis Park, as the attention now shifts to Buenos Aires for the return fixture.

The clash doubles up as a last opportunity for several players to make an impression on the coaches, with final Rugby World Cup squads set to be announced in the coming days.

As it was for South Africa last Saturday, this weekend is Los Pumas’ final game in Argentina before the Rugby World Cup and, for many players, their final match in the blue and white jersey at home.

Notably, Agustin Creevy will hit a personal milestone, becoming the first player to represent his country in 100 Test matches.

This is dubbed a ‘Rugby World Cup warm-up game’, but we will still get a mouth-watering encounter, particularly with the passionate home fans.

Where the game will be won

Last week we previewed the set-piece as the area where the game will be won, and while the same is true this time around, the breakdown battle seems more prevalent.

Although the Springboks had the upper hand at the set-piece, they did not dominate enough to pull out of touching distance as Argentina battled throughout the match, keeping the scoreline close.

However, the breakdown is where the game was ultimately decided as the Boks managed to generate quick ball when required and, more importantly, stalled the Pumas attack just enough to realign their defence and come up with the one play that sealed the result – Manie Libbok’s try.

The same is likely to be the case this weekend, and while the Springboks have named a largely changed side, Argentina have mainly stuck with the same pack, which makes this battle all the more interesting.

What they said

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber expects another fierce battle from Argentina, who he says are particularly difficult to beat at home.

“Argentina have shown in the last two seasons that they are a force to be reckoned with, and they are particularly tough to beat at home,” said Nienaber.

“They pride themselves on their physicality and set pieces, and they have an unbelievable fighting spirit, so we are anticipating another feisty battle against them.”

Springboks flanker Deon Fourie echoed his coach’s sentiments and emphasised the need to start well.

“As a team, we have to handle the first few minutes of the game,” Fourie said.

“They’ll play with a lot of emotion, but that can only carry a team so far. We just need to stick to our plan and give everything, and hopefully, the result will go our way.”

Players to watch

We have to talk about the man hitting the big milestone on Saturday. Agustin Creevy has been a magnificent servant of Argentine rugby since making his debut all the way back in 2005. He has been through it all, from missing out on the World Cup squad in 2007 to making the final cut in 2011, 2015 and 2019, and reaching the semi-finals in his second tournament. He might not be wearing the captain’s armband anymore, but he is still a leader in the squad and an iconic figure in the game, not just in Argentina.

Pablo Matera has quietly gone about his business this year for Los Pumas, and while he hasn’t played poorly for the side, he is due a massive performance. The all-action back-rower is unstoppable on his day, and after a solid Rugby Championship campaign, we expect him to take his game up a few gears ahead of the World Cup.

Creevy will understandably be grabbing all the headlines in the build-up to the match, but Saturday’s game is special for Santiago Cordero, too, as he earns his 50th Test cap for Los Pumas. The pocket rocket speedster has yet to play for Argentina this year and will be eager to produce a statement performance, having slipped down the pecking order. The speedster has unbelievable footwork, and given half a chance, he will rip any defence to shreds.

The Springbok coaches have earmarked the World Cup warm-up match against Wales as the potential return for Siya Kolisi, so in the meantime, Deon Fourie becomes the third player to don the iconic Green and Gold number six jumper. The experienced forward has made the most of every opportunity he has got since becoming the oldest Springboks debutant last July and earns his first start on Saturday. He may be in his late 30s, but you wouldn’t believe it with his incredible dynamism, turn of pace and aggression in contact. If there is an opportunity to make a line-break or pilfer over the ball, best believe Fourie will take it.

Opportunity knocks again for Jean Kleyn, who earns his second Springboks start. The Munster second-rower was in stellar form during the United Rugby Championship season and reproduced that for the Boks on debut in Round One of the Rugby Championship. The competition for spots in South Africa’s World Cup squad at lock is rife, and Kleyn will do his utmost on Saturday to force the coaches’ arm.

One of the heroes of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, Makazole Mapimpi, is struggling to keep his spot in the Springboks squad and needs a big performance to force his way back into the reckoning. Mapimpi has beaten the odds throughout his life, and don’t be surprised if he does so again in 2023.

Main head-to-head

Test matches between Los Pumas and the Springboks are often dog fights with the battle up front taking centre stage, and this weekend is no different. While both sides have named abrasive packs, the battle between hookers and captains Julian Montoya and Bongi Mbonambi is simply box office.

The pair are masters of the dark arts and cultured set-piece merchants, making for an epic clash between two front-rowers who can comfortably carry the world-class tag. Both players are also quick with a chirp or a sledge but let their actions speak louder with hefty hits, hard carries and relentless work rate.


Last week, we predicted a big Springboks victory, but Los Pumas put up an incredible fight and pushed South Africa all the way. Although Argentina has home advantage this time, we still think the defending world champions will come out on top. However, our margin has come down significantly as we expect the Springboks to win by five points.

Previous results

2022: South Africa won 22-21 in Johannesburg
2022: South Africa won 38-21 in Durban
2022: South Africa won 36-20 in Buenos Aires
2021: South Africa won 29-10 in Gqeberha
2021: South Africa won 32-12 in Gqeberha
2019: South Africa won 24-18 in Pretoria
2019: South Africa won 46-13 in Salta
2018: Argentina won 32-19 in Mendoza
2018: South Africa won 34-21 in Durban

Source: Planet Rugby