The Springboks are close but still far from assured of winning their first Rugby Championship in ten years since 2009 after their 16-all draw and the Pumas 10-16 loss to Australia on Saturday.
As the it now stands, the Springboks are a single log point ahead of the All Blacks – but, and this is a big but, the All Blacks have a match against the Wallabies in two weeks’ time.
That could, if their recent encounters are an indication of what awaits, produce a big score and bonus point for the All Blacks. This in turn puts the pressure on South Africa to either get a bonus point win against Argentina or win by such a margin that the All Blacks can’t make up for the 14 leeway in the points differential comparted to the Boks.
The standings now after two of the three matches are –
In theory Australia, with a surprise and highly unlikely win over the All Blacks on 11 August, can still take the spoils if the many permutations work out in their favour. But based on their two performances to date, that could merely be a dream on their part.
♦ The Wallabies had little trouble in putting the visiting Argentinians away 16-10 in Brisbane on Saturday in a game that showed how far off the pace of the other two sides in the competition these two are.
The Pumas were lethargic after their tough near-win against the All Blacks in Buenos Aires last weekend followed by the trip halfway around the world to Australia for this match.
They were again out-scrummed, had little penetration behind the scrum and the forwards were in general way off the pace to the breakdowns.
The Pumas have huge problems awaiting them in the World Cup if they can’t put their scrum right, and the Springboks will undoubtedly try to exploit that weakness when they meet in Salta in two weeks’ time.
Australia on Saturday didn’t look much sharper than against the ‘weaker’ SA team they played last weekend, although Kurtley Beal provided some injection into the backline.
However, considering the poor effort from the Pumas and their own inability to lift their standard, there is still plenty of work ahead for coach Michael Cheika to get them ready for the World Cup.
It was a forgettable match for both sides, with errors, lack of commitment and little hope for the World Cup ahead.
Wallabies (13) 16: Try: Reece Hodge. Conversion: Christian Leali’ifano. Penalties: Leali’ifano (3).
Argentina (3) 10: Try: Facundo Isa. Conversion: Joaquín Díaz Bonilla. Penalty: Nicolás Sánchez.