Rugby / Rugby Championship / S. Africa Ruins Argentina's Debut With Puma-ling

In the other opening day game of the Rugby Championship on Saturday, New Zealand turned in a gutsy defensive display to defeat Australia 27-19.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - South Africa beat Argentina 27-6 in the Rugby Championship on Saturday to send the Pumas to defeat on their debut in the southern hemisphere championship.

In the other opening day game Saturday, New Zealand turned in a gutsy defensive display to defeat Australia 27-19.

Fullback Zane Kirchner, flanker Marcell Coetzee and wing Bryan Habana went over for tries for the Springboks and Morne Steyn provided a dominant display from flyhalf. Argentina held its own in the forward battle at Newlands, but a combination of errors and missed opportunities - and South Africa's overall strength - ensured the South Americans didn't get close to an upset on their long-awaited introduction to the tournament.

Steyn was perfect in front of goal for his 12 points and created two of the three tries to mark a match in which he became South Africa's most capped No. 10, overtaking Butch James' 37 tests. Juan Martin Hernandez kicked two penalties for Argentina's only points, although the Pumas defended strongly in the final 20 minutes and prevented South Africa claiming a four-try bonus point for a small but significant boost for the newcomers.

Steyn responded to rare criticism of his kicking form during the England series in June to land five out of five shots at goal. He also provided the pass for Kirchner's try in the 17th minute and served up a pinpoint crosskick for Habana in the second half for the wing to extend his record as South Africa's leading try-scorer with a 41st test try.

In between, Coetzee scrambled over in the right corner from a maul in the 28th minute for his first try for the Springboks. The score gave the Boks a 20-3 lead after half an hour following Steyn's conversion from the touchline, and there was no way back for Argentina.

Hernandez and center Marcelo Bosch combined to miss three makeable penalty attempts in a four-minute spell early in the second half for Argentina, and the visitors struggled to seriously threaten after that.

To seal it, Steyn sent his cross-kick looping to the right corner where Habana - wearing the unfamiliar No. 14 jersey - won the ball in the air and touched down for South Africa's final try in the 57th.

It ended any thoughts of a late Argentinian fightback, even though the Pumas had worried South Africa with a number of rumbling rolling mauls.

Steyn converted Habana's try - again from the touchline - for a 27-6 lead and a winning start to the southern hemisphere tournament for new Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.