Even though Bryan Habana fell short of his own record, South Africa set their own straight after semifinal defeat to New Zealand. Argentina ended the tournament on a high, despite the defeat.
South Africa triumphed in the third place playoff at the 2015 Rugby World Cup on Friday, sealing a convincing 24-13 victory over Argentina in London. The Springboks, whose coach Heyneke Meyer had described the third-place playoff as akin to kissing your sister, dominated the game from the outset.
"Of course we would have loved to be playing tomorrow for the World Cup. We knew it would be tough tonight, we have a lot of respect for Argentina and a bronze medal is better than fourth place," said captain Victor Matfield, after his 127th and final appearance.
JP Pietersen touched down in just six minutes to capitalize on an early yellow card given to Tomas Cubelli, which set the tone for the game. Handre Pollard converted and added three penalties for a 16-0 advantage at the interval. Argentina eventually got on the board through Nicolas Sanchez's drop goal but then Bryan Habana beautifully set up Eben Etzebeth to score in the corner. Habana, who needed one try to set a new outright record for the most tries by a player in World Cups, failed to get over the line in what was almost certainly his last tournament appearance. After being replaced 12 minutes from time, the winger remains tied with New Zealander Jonah Lomu on 15 World Cup tries.
Pollard and Sanchez exchanged penalties before Juan Pablo Orlandi forced over a late consolation under the posts for Argentina. Pollard finished with 14 points in the match, taking his total points tally for the tournament to 93. Argentine flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez stayed as the tournament's leading pointscorer though, after a last-minute conversion kept him four points ahead of Pollard.
Champions New Zealand aim to become the first side to defend the World Cup when they meet Australia's in Saturday's final at Twickenham.
jh/ (Reuters, dpa)