Five takeaways from the Springboks' Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Durban.
Durban seems to be done with Test rugby.
It wasn't a beach day and there was certainly nothing else on the go in the tropical city. So why are Durbanites not filling up Kings Park for Test matches? Just under 27 000 people rocked up to watch the Springboks beat the Pumas at the 49 000-capacity stadium. When the Springboks played France at the same venue there were just over 30 000 people who attended that match. There could be many factors, with the high price of tickets maybe the greatest reason for the dwindling numbers. Going forward, this is going to be a massive issue for the union when they bid for big Tests.
The Springboks have proper speed and finishers out wide
Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi scored a brace each against the Pumas, but it was their all-round play that was impressive. Both players worked really hard on defence and, when they got a chance to stretch their legs, they had the sparse Durban crowd on their feet. Dyantyi has the makings of a global superstar and the heir to Bryan Habana's throne. He has wonderful feet, great anticipation and is one of the best kick-chasers of a rugby ball in the world. Mapimpi has raw speed, but his positional play and catching of the high ball has improved out of sight.
Eben Etzebeth looks like he really missed hitting people
The Stormers lock smashed, pulverised and inflicted a lot of pain in his Springbok comeback, which remarkably lasted the full 80 minutes. Etzebeth hadn't played a competitive rugby match in almost nine months, and was keen to make up for lost time by playing a massive role in the Boks' awesome forward effort on the night. He mentioned before the game that he felt really good despite not having match minutes under the belt, because their training sessions are intense. But there is nothing like the real thing and it seemed that he enjoyed himself in Durban.
This Argentina side will grow into a tough unit under Ledesma
Los Pumas had no quality ball, they were obliterated at the breakdown and had to defend for most of the game. But yet the Springboks never really streaked away from them. Argentina did well with the half chances they had, while their discipline was a lot better than in previous visits to South Africa. However, their set piece let them down at Kings Park, especially their scrum. If they can get these aspects right they will be a team to beat at home in Argentina. You'll never be able to beat the Boks without matching them in the forwards.
Handré Pollard's goal-kicking remains a concern
With the World Cup in just over a year's time the Boks are still looking for someone who can turn their pressure into points. Handré Pollard had a bit of a nightmare off the kicking tee against Argentina, and missed five kicks at goal. This also seemed to affect his general play, as he made one or two stray passes. In Pollard and Elton Jantjies, the Boks have two very good players, but they let themselves down when it comes to keeping the scoreboard ticking over with penalties. Both players will have to improve in this department if the Boks want to be competitive at the World Cup.