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South Africa 24 Argentina 13: Springboks take bronze

By Tom Allnutt

Published 30/10/2015

South Africa's centre Jesse Kriel (L) greets Argentina's fly half and captain Nicolas Sanchez after the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
South Africa's centre Jesse Kriel (L) greets Argentina's fly half and captain Nicolas Sanchez after the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
Eben Etzebeth of South Africa clashes with Tomas Lavanini and Nicolas Sanchez of Argentina during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match between South Africa and Argentina. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
South Africa's hooker Adriaan Strauss (C) is tackled by Argentina's prop Ramiro Herrera during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
Jesse Kriel of South Africa evades a tackle from Horacio Agulla of Argentina during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Nicolas Sanchez of Argentina scores a drop goal during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match between South Africa and Argentina. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Bryan Habana of South Africa and Nicolas Sanchez of Argentina come together during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match between South Africa and Argentina. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Argentina's centre Matias Moroni (R) is tackled by South Africa's scrum half Ruan Pienaar during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS
Argentina's Matias Moroni (left) and South Africa's Jesse Kriel during the bronze medal match at the Olympic Stadium, London. Mike Egerton/PA Wire
South Africa's number 8 Duane Vermeulen prepares for a scrum during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
South Africa's wing Bryan Habana fails to catch the ball during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
Argentina's centre Matias Moroni (L) is tackled by South Africa's wing JP Pietersen during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
Argentina's full-back Lucas Amorosino (C) falls during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
South Africa's wing Bryan Habana fails to catch the ball during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
Damian De Allende of South Africa is wrapped up in the Argentina defense during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match between South Africa and Argentina. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
South Africa's lock and captain Victor Matfield (L) jumps in a line out with Argentina's lock Matias Alemanno during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS
South Africa's wing Bryan Habana (L) and Argentina's full-back Lucas Amorosino jump for the ball during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
Matias Moroni of Argentina hands off JP Pietersen of South Africa during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match between South Africa and Argentina. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
South Africa's wing JP Pietersen (L) celebrates with South Africa's fly half Handre Pollard after scoring a try during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
South Africa's wing JP Pietersen scores a try during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
Argentina's scrum half Tomas Cubelli receives a yellow card during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
South Africa's flanker Schalk Burger (C) is tackled by Argentina's number 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamon during the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
South Africa's lock and captain Victor Matfield (L) leads out the team before the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK
South Africa fans in the stands before the bronze medal match at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Mike Egerton/PA Wire
A South African fan smiles prior to the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match between South Africa and Argentina. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Argentina fans show their support in the stands prior to the bronze medal match at the Olympic Stadium, London. David Davies/PA Wire
South Africa fans show their support in the stands prior to the bronze medal match at the Olympic Stadium, David Davies/PA Wire
South Africa's wing Bryan Habana (C) and South Africa's hooker Bismarck du Plessis warm up before the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: A South African fan shows his colours ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final match between South Africa and Argentina at the Olympic Stadium on October 30, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
South Africa's wing Bryan Habana warms up before the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
Argentina fans look on before the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina at the Olympic Stadium, east London, on October 30, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS
Argentina's flanker Javier Ortega Desio warms up before the bronze medal match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between South Africa and Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
Argentina fans show their support in the stands prior to the bronze medal match at the Olympic Stadium. David Davies/PA Wire.
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: (SOUTH AFRICA OUT) Bryan Habana during the South African national rugby team Captains Run and Media Conference at Olympic Stadium on October 29, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
South Africa's hooker Bismarck du Plessis passes the ball during a training session at the Olympic Stadium in east London. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE
TOPSHOTS South Africa's wing Bryan Habana (R) stretches during a training session at the Olympic Stadium in east London on October 29, 2015, on the eve of their 2015 Rugby Union World Cup bronze medal match against Argentina. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEFRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa took a 16-0 first-half lead over Argentina in the third-place play-off and Bryan Habana just missed out on making his record-breaking 16th World Cup try.

The Springboks took full advantage of an early yellow card to Argentina's Tomas Cubelli as JP Pietersen went over in the corner, with Handre Pollard kicking the conversion and three more penalties.

Habana, however, needing one more try to break Jonah Lomu's World Cup record, saw one score ruled out and another go begging after he dropped the ball just 10 metres out.

It may not have been the match either team wanted to be playing this weekend but both sets of players sang their national anthems with enough passion to suggest this was more than just an end-of-tournament exhibition.

Adrenaline may even have been running too high early on as Argentine scrum-half Tomas Cubelli was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle and South Africa instantly capitalised, spinning the ball wide for JP Pietersen to dive over in the corner.

Handre Pollard converted and three minutes later the Springboks were almost in again as Habana jumped on a loose ball over the whitewash but Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino was adjudged to have got there first.

Pollard extended the advantage to 10-0 with a penalty after 13 minutes as Cubelli returned to the field with his side already under pressure.

Restored to full strength, Argentina found a foothold in the contest and could have reduced the deficit when Cubelli weaved his way through with a brilliant run but was stopped 10 metres short of the line.

The Springboks weathered the storm and again Habana went close, but again that 16th try proved elusive as he spilled Pollard's looping pass with the line seemingly at his mercy.

More Argentinian indiscipline at the scrum, however, ensured South Africa did not come away empty-handed as Nicolas Sanchez was penalised for coming in at the side and Pollard duly slotted another three points.

South Africa ended the period on top and another penalty allowed Pollard to kick his side 16 points clear with the last action of the half.

Sanchez put the Pumas on the scoreboard with a drop-goal soon after the restart but any hopes of a comeback were soon curtailed as Eben Etzebeth slid over for a second South Africa try.

Pollard was unable to add the conversion from wide and minutes later, Habana's woes continued as the winger let a simple pass slip down his midriff to hand possession back to Argentina.

Habana apart, however, South Africa were cruising as an offside allowed Pollard to kick another penalty before Argentina botched a line-out five metres from their opponents' line.

An infringement up front did mean Sanchez cut the Springboks' lead to 24-6, before Argentine veteran Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe left the field to warm applause on his final international appearance.

Matfield's Test career also came to an end with 18 minutes remaining, moments after his team-mate Adriaan Strauss had sparked a mass brawl to keep the dozing crowd entertained.

If the second half began to feel more about players leaving the pitch than those still on it, Habana continued the trend as he was replaced in the 68th minute, ensuring Lomu's now joint record remains intact.

The Pumas had the last word as Juan Pablo Orlandi touched down for the biggest cheer of the night, with Sanchez converting for a late consolation.

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