South Africa beat Argentina 24-18 in an arm-wrestle at Loftus Versveld, Pretoria.
Sibusiso Nkosi grabbed a brace, scoring his sixth and seventh Test tries. His second score was a sensational solo effort that will live long in the memory.
Elton Jantjies, back at first receiver, kicked 14 points to keep the Boks ahead of the visitors.
Jantjies held his nerve to slot a 78th-minute penalty after Lucas Mensa’s try was chalked off for obstruction.
It was the right call by the officials.
Guido Petti and Pablo Matera dotted down for the Pumas, but it was the boot of Jantjies and ill-discipline that cost the South Americans in a close contest.
Siya Kolisi made his long-awaited return to the Springboks but did not captain despite starting.
Schalk Brits, however, become the oldest South African debut captain and the second oldest Bok skipper at 38 years, two months and 24 days old.
Rassie Erasmus’ charges finish the Test season unbeaten and champions of the southern hemisphere after winning the Rugby Championship in Argentina, last weekend.
Mario Ledesma’s men, however, did not win a match, losing to the Boks twice, New Zealand and Australia.
South Africa dominate but struggle to turn pressure into points
Argentina did not threaten, struggling to get keep possession and get out of their half.
The Springboks dominated the opening quarter, enjoying 81% territory and 68% possession, but they could not turn pressure into points.
Twice Brits opted for kicking to the corner.
The Boks failed to get over the line, but they continued to assert their authority in the scrums and at the breakdown.
Petti infringed at the breakdown on his 22. Brits, finally, opted for the poles.
Jantjies made no mistake, and the Boks led on 20 minutes.
It was a frustrating game, littered with errors, although, that is understandable with all the changes to the teams.
Los Pumas did eventually get some possession and clawed their way into the game.
Kwagga Smith, on for Marcell Coetzee, who failed an HIA, conceded a penalty and Joaquín Díaz Bonilla levelled on 27 minutes.
Marcos Kremer was lucky not to receive a yellow card for a no-arms, high shot to Coetzee’s head.
The game burst into life just after the half-hour mark
Nkosi charged down the sideline cut inside a defender and bounced two as he crashes over for his sixth Test try.
Jantjies’ skip-pass to fullback Warrick Gelant opened up space.
Gelant’s angled run gave Nkosi the space to get on the outside of his opposite number before giving the Boks an 8-3 lead.
The Springboks controlled every facet of the game, but could not press home their advantage.
Los Pumas strike on the stroke of halftime to take an unlikely and undeserved lead
South Africa mounted a final attack before the interval.
They were making progress into Argentinian territory before a calamity from Cobus Reinach put the visitors back in the contest.
Reinach, with all the time in the world, sent a telegraphed pass into the hands of Petti, who raced 52 metres to score the game-levelling try.
The Bok scrumhalf takes too many steps before releasing the ball; it eventually cost his side.
Díaz Bonilla’s conversion put the South Americans ahead as the teams went into the shed.
The 30-year-old flyhalf missed an early second-half penalty, pushing his kick wide.
Argentina almost scored moment’s later.
Gelant’s kick was charged down, but Kremer’s pass to Sebastián Cancelliere was knocked on by the winger, and the Boks survived.
Nkosi magic gives the Boks another slender lead on 48 minutes
It was a sensational finish by the Sharks winger.
He rounded and bounced three defenders, slipping tackles before swallow-diving through a last-ditch tackle to dot down in the corner.
Jantjies’ touchline conversion extended the advantage.
Los Pumas stay in touching distance
Benjamin Urdapilleta came on an reduced the deficit before the hour; however, the 33-year-old conceded a penalty a minute later at the breakdown.
Jantjies cancelled out Urdapilleta’s three-pointer on the hour.
Both sides conceded penalties at an alarming rate.
Reinach was lucky to not concede a penalty try, but his indiscretion led to a lineout in the corner.
The Pumas did not maul, instead, choosing to play quickly off the top, which worked a treat as Pablo Matera ran over Frans Steyn to level.
There was late drama
Urdapilleta missed the easy conversion.
Jantjies kicked a long-range penalty a few minutes afterwards to make it 21-18 with less than 10 to play.
The Loftus crowd had their hearts in their mouths when Argentina appeared to have won the match with a late try.
Mensa also thought he had scored on debut, but Jerónimo de la Fuente obstructed Vincent Koch from making a tackle on Urdapilleta.
The referee and TMO checked the replay and proceded to chalk Mensa’s score off the board.
Jantjies, duly, extended the Boks’ lead with another faded penalty.
It turned out to be the deciding kick of the match as the Boks held on for another hard-fought win.
More to follow…
Final Score: South Africa 24 (8) Argentina 18 (10)
Tries – Nkosi (2)
Pen – Jantjies (4)
Con – Jantjies
Tries – Petti, Matera
Pen – Díaz Bonilla, Urdapilleta
Con – Díaz Bonilla
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)
Assistant Ref 1: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant Ref 2: Pierre Brousset (FFR)
TMO: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Schalk Brits (captain), 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni (debut), 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Marco van Staden, 22 Francois de Klerk, 23 Frans Steyn.
15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Sebastián Cancelliere, 13 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 12 Lucas Mensa (debut), 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Mayco Vivas.
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Santiago Carreras (debut).