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Clinical Springboks show sixth sense

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Photograph by Akil SimmonsLoud and proud: South Africa celebrate their title after beating Argentina in the final of the World Rugby Classic at the North Field

A pair of superbly worked second-half tries secured South Africa a sixth title at the World Rugby Classic at the North Field on Saturday night.

Tonderai Chavhanga and JP Nel struck the decisive blows that separated the two sides to hand South Africa a deserved 14-0 victory over Argentina.

It was the Springboks first title at the Classic since they beat the Pumas 14-7 in another similarly hard-fought win three years ago.

Mark Wood, the South Africa coach, has been involved in five of those successes, either as a player or coach, and praised his side for exploiting a tired-looking Argentina down the final straight.

“Argentina were defending a lot, getting tired, and one or two gaps opened up and our guys picked those out and capitalised on them,” Wood said.

“You have to seize the moment when you get it because Argentina are abrasive and it was a great final.

“We always thought we could win it as we’re a professional team and I would never bring a team here that I didn’t think could win.”

Wood believed it actually benefited his side playing into the wind in the second half after a cagey opening stanza.

“It was a very tough first half and a lot of times when you’re playing with the wind, people tend to think the wind will do the job for you,” he added.

“That’s not the case; you actually battle more against the wind and it’s actually easier because you’re not going to knock-on and your whole mindset changes. The boys dug deep and the defence won the game, really.”

South Africa broke the deadlock in the 51st minute on the counter when Egon Seconds picked the ball up deep inside his own half and drove at the Argentina defence before releasing Chavhanga with an inviting chip and chase.

The South Africa wing then booted the ball farther towards the try line before scooping it up to score, with fly half Monty Dumond kicking the extra points.

Chavhanga’s try seemed to open the game up, and, soon after, the Springboks doubled their lead after carving through the Argentina defence with lock JP Nell supplying the finishing touches to a free-flowing passing move.

Dumond stepped up to kick his second conversion and tie up his team’s title triumph.

Having just a day’s rest after dismantling New Zealand 40-14 in the semi-finals might have explained Argentina’s second-half fatigue, but Rodolfo Ventura, the team’s manager, refused to make excuses.

“South Africa were a very strong team and they hit us physically,” said Ventura, whose said were chasing their third title after winning in 1999 and 2011.

“Perhaps they knew we didn’t have enough time to recover [from the semi-finals]. There’s no excuse from us, though, and South Africa did very well and deserved the championship.

“They took advantage of their only two opportunities and that’s important when you’re in a final.”

Plate final, page 47

Photograph by Akil SimmonsSublime move: Doppies la Grange passes to JP Nell to score South Africa’s second try