MENDOZA, Argentina -- Two late penalties by Morne Steyn gave South Africa their second consecutive victory in the Rugby Championship as they beat Argentina 22-17 on Saturday in a game that was a lot closer than the record win over the Pumas last weekend.
The Springboks hammered Argentina 73-13 in Johannesburg for the largest win ever in the competition, but the Pumas showed a much more combative spirit this time in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Malvinas Argentinas stadium.
"It was an all different team today," Steyn said. "Playing in their country and with all their fans behind them, they came up tough to fight."
Bjorn Basson scored the sole try for the Springboks in the first half and Steyn had an unblemished evening as he landed all six attempts to add 17 points, including two penalties in the last eight minutes to decide the game.
Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Marcelo Bosch touched down for the Pumas in both ends of the first half, and Felipe Contepomi added a penalty and the two conversions.
The Springboks have now won 16 of their 17 games against the Pumas, who managed a 16-16 draw in the corresponding fixture last season. It was the closest Argentina came to winning a match in the elite southern hemisphere tournament.
Argentina started strongly with a ferocious pressure that generated an attack that ended with Leguizamon wheeling over for a second-minute try.
After Steyn and Contepomi exchanged penalties, South Africa got some momentum going and hammered the line.A counter-attack found Basson free on the left wing for the game-tying try making it 10-10 after 13 minutes.
The Springboks kept it up and had a couple of chances to score, but were denied both times by Marshall Kilgore.
And when Pumas recovered the ball, they made the most of it as a long, patient drive ended with Bosch crashing over the line for the second try in the 37th.
Steyn landed another penalty when the halftime siren had already sounded and put the Springboks one point down at 17-16 in the 45th with his fourth strike.
The visitors were unable to dominate the set pieces and the mauling as they had done seven days earlier, but made the most of the chances Argentina gave them.
In the 73rd minute Steyn converted yet another penalty to put the Springboks ahead for the first time in the evening, this time for good. He had one more chance when after time had expired, and didn't miss that time either.
"One thing that was great is that we didn't panic in the final minutes, last year we did," South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said. "There was an improvement, although we didn't play well. Argentina was trying to make their country proud, it is a difficult side to beat on the road."
It was the first away victory for South Africa in the competition since 2009, when they beat New Zealand in Hamilton en route to their third and last Southern Hemisphere title.
Steyn has now made 18 of his 19 attempts in the tournament for 45 points in two games.
The Springboks now face the toughest segment of the competition as they travel to Australasia for a two-game series, the first against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Sept. 7th and the latter against the All Blacks, seven days later in Auckland.
South Africa 22 (Basson try; Steyn conversion, 5 penalties) defeated Argentina 17 (Leguizamon, Bosch tries; Contepomi 2 conversions, penalty). HT 13-17.