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South Africa 24 Argentina 13

South Africa v Argentina - Bronze Final: Rugby World Cup 2015

Northampton Saints-bound Victor Matfield bowed out from international rugby with 127 South Africa caps and a World Cup bronze medal.

The 38-year-old, captaining his country against Argentina at the Olympic Stadium in his final appearance, lasted just over an hour as South Africa eased to a 24-13 victory.

Scores from JP Pietersen and Eben Etzebeth did the damage to a much-changed Pumas side, while Bryan Habana couldn’t find the all-important try that would have taken him to a World Cup record tally of 16.

And replacement prop Juan Pablo Orlandi grabbed a late consolation try to give the Pumas supporters a well-deserved send-off.

Within five minutes the Pumas were down to 14 men, scrum-half Tomas Cubelli sin-binned for not retreating ten yards, and South Africa took advantage almost immediately.

Willie Le Roux found Pietersen on the right wing to skip past his man and touch down, Handre Pollard converting after the TMO confirmed the try.

Habana was denied his record-breaking score after ten minutes, narrowly beaten to a chip kick inside the in-goal area by Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

Pollard then extended the lead to ten after prop Ramiro Herrera was penalised for obstruction, before Habana knocked-on in the tackle with the line in sight.

Restored to their full compliment, Argentina found a foothold in the game and a sharp break from Matias Moroni took them deep into Springbok territory but South Africa survived.

Habana’s frustrations continued when he knocked on again with the line gaping shortly before the half-hour mark, while Pollard’s second penalty made it 13-0 after Argentina went in at the side.

It wasn’t long before Habana was denied again, chipping ahead and giving chase only to concede a penalty for pulling back Amorosino ten metres short of the line.

And when the Pumas were off their feet on the stroke of half time, Pollard bisected the posts for a 16-point lead.

Nicolas Sanchez drilled over an early second-half drop-goal to get Argentina on the board but Etzebeth soon squeezed over by the corner flag for a second try after some quick Springbok hands.

Pollard popped another penalty between the posts on 48 minutes – not before the Olympic Stadium crowd voiced its frustration at his decision to call for the tee – and Sanchez followed suit soon after.

Tempers flared briefly after an hour on the Argentina try line but referee John Lacey soon calmed things down, before Matfield and Habana each made way to a well-earned ovation.

Pollard struck the post with a penalty ten minutes from time, prompting arguably the loudest cheer of the evening, shortly before he managed to miss touch with the simplest of kicks to the corner.

Argentina did give their fervent supporters something to shout about late on when Orlandi piled over the line but it was too little, too late.
 

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