The Rugby Championship: Last-gasp Whiteley snatches win for Springboks


A 79th-minute try from Warren Whiteley snatched South Africa a dramatic 30-23 victory over Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

The Springboks found themselves 10 points behind with 10 minutes remaining after Nicolas Sanchez - who kicked for 13 points to become the fourth Pumas player to surpass the 400 mark in Tests - converted the try his exquisite dink created for Santiago Cordero.

Johan Goosen's score and the boot of Elton Jantjies - responsible for 15 points - helped level things up in the closing stages, before Whiteley charged over on the left to get South Africa's campaign off to a victorious start.

The Springboks started at a ferocious pace and registered first when Ruan Combrinck made the most of a brilliant run from Jantjies by powering over in the corner after seven minutes.

The Pumas lost Manuel Montero to a yellow card for a lifting tackle on Faf de Klerk in the 22nd minute, but being a man light did not stop them moving ahead.

Joaquin Tuculet launched a break down the left before Argentina spread the play quickly across to Matias Orlando, who touched down.

South Africa thought they had regained the lead six minutes before half-time but Lionel Mapoe was deemed to have knocked on when crossing the line, and they went into the interval three points behind.

The Springboks lost Bryan Habana to the sin bin in the 46th minute when he slipped and caught the legs of Cordero, but some sensational defending on their own line stopped the Pumas quickly extending their advantage.

Jantjies levelled with a penalty before Habana returned, although Sanchez responded in kind with the kick that took him beyond the 400-point mark in his international career.

The Pumas fly-half then sent a sensational chip in behind the defence for Cordero to touch down before a powerful drive and reverse pass from De Klerk freed Goosen to race over at the other end.

Jantjies equalised with yet another penalty before an excellent team move ended in the hands of Whiteley, who made no mistake with two minutes remaining.

The late defeat will have disappointed Pumas captain Agustin Creevy on his 50th Test cap, but they have a chance to make up for it in the return match in Salta next weekend.