Springboks crush Pumas 46-13 to win first Rugby Championship

SALTA, Argentina (AP) — Flyhalf Handre Pollard scored two tries and tallied 31 points as South Africa crushed Argentina 46-13 on Saturday to win the Rugby Championship for the first time.

Pollard touched down in each half and booted five penalties and three conversions to drive home the overwhelming advantage the Springboks held over the Pumas at set pieces.

His second try came when the Springboks were down to 14 men, with scrumhalf Faf de Klerk in the sin-bin for joining a ruck from the side after the visitors conceded a series of penalties near their goal line.

Argentina, who won the previous meeting between the teams, shocked South Africa with a try by winger Santiago Cordero after two minutes.

South Africa responded with Pollard's first penalty and a try by hooker Bongi Mbonambi from a concerted lineout drive. The lead changed hands three times in an exchange of penalties between Pollard and Pumas flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez before the Springboks edged ahead.

Pollard's first try, just after the halftime siren, gave his side a 24-13 advantage at the break.

For much of the opening half it seemed the Springboks might squander their huge volume of possession, just as they did in the 16-16 draw with New Zealand in their previous match.

They struggled at first to use the ball effectively in outside channels, but that changed in the second half as they played with more confidence and combination while Argentina visibly tired.

After Pollard scored his second try in the 53rd minute, outstanding handling and passing produced tries by wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe.

Australia beat New Zealand 47-26 earlier on Saturday but it was South Africa who won the title for the first time, 10 years after winning its predecessor, the Tri-Nations Championship.

"It's a fantastic feeling," captain Duane Vermuelen said. "It's a nice thing for the team and also a good thing for us going into a World Cup.

"We play the best teams in the southern hemisphere so it's good to have this step up. There's still a lot of work to be done but it's a good feeling."


More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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