The outstanding Handre Pollard racked up a 31-point haul as ruthless South Africa hammered Argentina 46-13 in the Salta sun to win the Rugby Championship for the first time in a decade.
South Africa knew a victory in the final match of the tournament at Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena would deny Australia the title after the Wallabies had thrashed defending champions New Zealand 47-26 earlier on Saturday.
Pollard grabbed a try in each half and booted 21 points as the Springboks got the job done six weeks before they start their bid for Rugby World Cup glory with a blockbuster clash against the All Blacks in Yokohama.
Mbongeni Mbonambi also touched down after Santiago Cordero opened the scoring with an early try, which proved to be a false dawn for the Pumas.
Further scores from Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe rubbed salt into the wounds, South Africa running away with it to take the title for a fourth time in style.
Nicolas Sanchez scored two penalties in what was a tight contest for much of the first half, but the ill-disciplined Pumas were scoreless after the break and finished bottom of the table without a win to their name.
Man of the Match !
Well played!! pic.twitter.com/cmvJ6o2bCz
— Springboks (@Springboks) August 10, 2019
Argentina came out firing on all cylinders and they were in front inside two minutes, Cordero finishing in the right corner after getting on a clever kick from Sanchez – who then added the extras.
The Springboks responded strongly, however, and Mbonambi touched down from a maul following a lineout 13 minutes in, albeit Pollard failed to convert after he had previously found the target with a penalty.
Still, two more penalties from Pollard put the favourites back in front following another successful strike from Sanchez at the other end as Rassie Erasmus’ men gradually ground their hosts down.
The trusty boot of Sanchez cut the gap to a point at 14-13, but Argentina were punished by Pollard on the half-hour mark, the brilliant fly-half drilling a strike straight down the middle.
Faf de Klerk was a livewire at scrum-half and there was no keeping Pollard out of the action as he ploughed his way through Sanchez to score just before the break following great work by the forwards.
Pollard converted to put his side 11 points ahead at half-time and took his personal points tally to 22 with yet another penalty early in the second half, the Pumas continuing to shoot themselves in the foot.
De Klerk was sin-binned for straying offside, yet Pollard gave ruthless South Africa more breathing space when he was on hand to claim another try following a great run from Franco Mostert.
Pollard turned provider with an assist for the unmarked Mapimpi to cross in the corner and Pieter-Steph du Toit showed great hands to set up Kolbe 13 minutes from time, South Africa adding insult to injury before getting their hands on the trophy.
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