A week after letting a winning chance slip through its fingers, Argentina beat South Africa 26-24 in the Rugby Championship on Saturday to claim only its second-ever victory over the Springboks.
Replacement Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, the third goalkicker used by Argentina, kicked a penalty with three minutes remaining to clinch the win after South Africa snatched the lead with a Morne Steyn goal five minutes earlier.
For the second week in a row, Argentina saw a 10-point second-half lead evaporate. Last weekend in Nelspruit, South Africa, the Pumas led by 10 points with nine minutes remaining only to concede two late tries and lose 30-23.
This time, Argentina held its nerve after Steyn seemed to snatch another Springboks victory, reclaiming the lead to match its first victory over South Africa in Durban last year.
South Africa was left to rue goalkicking lapses: Starting flyhalf Elton Jantjies and Steyn jointly missed four kicks at goal while Nicolas Sanchez, Juan Martin Hernandez, and Iglesias maintained perfect records for Argentina, sharing six goals from six attempts.
A try to fullback Joquin Tuculet, converted by Sanchez who also kicked two penalties, helped Argentina to a 13-3 lead at halftime. But the Springboks erased that lead in only four minutes after the restart with a penalty to Jantjies and a try to winger Bryan Habana, converted by Johan Goosen.
Argentina began to dominate at the breakdown through the middle stages of the second half and was rewarded with a 48th minute try to flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon which was converted by Hernandez who made the lead 23-13 with a 53rd-minute penalty.
Hernandez was carried from the field after a head clash with South Africa's Oupa Mohoje, and the goalkicking duties fell to Iglesias, who showed steely nerves to slot the final goal, delighting 20,000 Argentina fans.
"When we held onto the ball we performed well," Argentina scrumhalf Martin Landajo said. "But both teams performed well at times and for that reason it was a tight match."
Until that last scoring act, South Africa lifted its performance, closing to 23-21 with a penalty to Steyn and a try to replacement Pieter-Steph du Toit. Steyn missed the conversion of that try, which would have tied the scores, but nailed the 72nd-minute penalty which gave South Africa the lead for the first time in more than 40 minutes.
That goal seemed a crushing blow to Argentina, who had once again let a defensible lead slip away. But they continued to play a game of territory — both teams employed strong kicking games — and won the chance to save the game with a late penalty.
"We expected a physical match, we expected a tough game," Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss said. "Well done to Argentina, they played a fantastic game.
"We made a lot of errors, couldn't build the phases, especially through the first half, played against ourselves, and that cost us on the day.
"We need to go back and have a hard look at ourselves. We need to start finding our rhythm and start playing towards what we want to be and the team we want to be."
Argentina next plays New Zealand in Hamilton on Sept. 10, while South Africa plays Australia in Brisbane later that day.
Argentina 26 (Joaquin Tuculet, Juan Manuel Leguizamon tries; Nicolas Sanchez conversion, 2 penalties, Juan Martin Hernandez conversion, penalty, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias penalty), South Africa 24 (Bryan Habana, Pieter-Steph du Toit tries; Elton Jantjies 2 penalties, Johan Goosen conversion, Morne Steyn 2 penalties). HT: 13-3.