Rugby-Boks to match Argentina’s intensity in championship finale

  • Rugby
  • Thursday, 22 Sep 2022

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - 3rd Test - South Africa v Wales - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa - July 16, 2022 South Africa's Makazole Mapimpi during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - Wing Makazole Mapimpi has vowed South Africa will fight fire with fire when they host Argentina in a final Rugby Championship fixture in Durban on Saturday, with the home side poised for a rare title win.

The Springboks are level with New Zealand on 14 points at the top of the table, with the All Blacks to host Australia in Auckland earlier on Saturday.

New Zealand have a +41 points-difference and the Boks +28, but South Africa will know exactly the equation needed to overtake the former by the time they kickoff at a sold out King’s Park.

Argentina are mathematically still in the hunt themselves, but it would take a stunning set of results and massive points swing from their -43 to finish top.

Mapimpi expects the South Americans to be out for revenge after their 36-20 loss in Buenos Aires last weekend, where the home side clawed their way back into the contest to trail by two points in the final 10 minutes, only for South Africa to pull ahead again.

"Similar to their forwards, their backs are physical, and that is something we’ll need to try to match in the game," Mapimpi told reporters. "For us, we need to make things personal, and be at our best.

"It’s very important for us as a team and for the fans to win the competition and see things come together. We played a few games away from home, and it’s great to be back and have a chance to win the Rugby Championship, so we are looking forward to Saturday."

The Boks go in search of a fifth southern hemisphere title, though their last in 2019 was in a shortened competition with three matches per team due to the World Cup in Japan.

The last time they won in a competition with a full set of fixtures was 2009.

They go into the game with their fourth-choice flyhalf, veteran Frans Steyn, 35, who is the only specialist in that position left in the squad with Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies and Damian Willemse unavailable for a variety of reasons.

It is his first Bok start in the number 10 jersey for 14 years, though he has been finishing games there in this Rugby Championship.

South Africa have also reverted to their preferred 6-2 split between forwards and backs on the bench, which allows them to keep up the pressure at set-piece and broken play for the full 80 minutes.

Argentina, who beat their hosts 37-25 in Durban in 2015, their only win in South Africa, have made two backline changes as Juan Imhoff comes in on the wing in place of Lucio Cinti, while Matias Moroni replaces Matias Orlando at outside centre.

Imhoff scored a hat-trick of tries in that famous win seven years ago.

Teenage backrow forward Pedro Rubiolo, 19, is a surprise selection on the bench.

(Reporting by Nick Said)

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