Pumas produce stunning upset win over Boks

Winger Juan Imhoff scored a hat-trick of tries as Argentina recorded a historic first win over South Africa by 37-25 in the final match of the 2015 Rugby Championship in Durban.

After 18 losses and a draw since the countries first met 22 years ago in Buenos Aires, it was the Pumas’ first victory over the Springboks in 20 attempts, and also their first away success in the competition.

Imhoff crossed the line twice in the opening half on Saturday to help underdogs Argentina to a 27-13 halftime lead and South Africa never recovered from his third try early in the second half.

The result – only Argentina’s second win in 21 tournament matches – spoilt the Test comeback of Springboks skipper and centre Jean de Villiers, leading the green and gold for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury in Wales last November.

Australia won the Rugby Championship earlier on Saturday with a 27-19 triumph over world champions New Zealand, Argentina finished third and winless South Africa last.

It took the Pumas just 100 seconds to go ahead as an inside pass caught the Springboks napping and Imhoff sent centre Marcelo Bosch over for a try that five-eighth Juan Martin Hernandez converted.

After fly-half Handre Pollard trimmed the deficit to four points via a penalty, the South Americans struck again as Imhoff gathered an aimless kick ahead and triggered a move he later finished by dotting down.

Hernandez, a veteran of the 2007 and 2011 World Cup tournaments and recalled in place of off-form Nicolas Sanchez, converted again.

Another Pollard penalty was followed by another Imhoff try with the Pumas winning a scrum and breaking on the blindside for the winger to go over before the teams traded penalty goes and Argentina took a 14-point advantage at the break.

South Africa controversially fell seven points further behind three minutes into the second half when Imhoff completed his hat-trick.

While the Springboks waited on the try-line, believing the referee had not restarted play after an injury, Hernandez took a tap penalty and passed to Imhoff, who waltzed over for Hernandez to convert.

Fullback Willie le Roux offered a glimmer of hope to the silenced 27,000 crowd by beginning and ending a move which produced a try that Pollard converted, leaving South Africa 14 points adrift with 30 minutes left.

Argentina, watched by some survivors of the first Pumas to tour South Africa 50 years ago, were next to score as Bosch dropped a goal but winger Bryan Habana claimed a late try for the hosts.

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