South Africa wins 24-18 after Pumas late try disallowed

Argentina's Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, left, kicks a penalty during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Argentina's Guido Petti, right, runs to score a try during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
South Africa's S'bu Nkosi runs to scores a try during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Argentina's captain Pablo Matera, right, is tackled by South Africa's Siya Kolisi during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
South Africa's Rynhardt Elstadt, top center, wins the ball against Argentina's Guido Petti, top right, during aline-out for the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
South Africa's Cobus Reinach, left, passes the ball as he avoids a tackle from Argentina's Julian Montoya, bottom, during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Argentina's Guido Petti scores a try during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

PRETORIA, South Africa — Argentina was denied just a second victory over the Springboks in South Africa and a big boost for the Rugby World Cup when Lucas Mensa's try with three minutes to go was disallowed on Saturday.

Instead, South Africa flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked over the resultant penalty to see a second-string Springboks team home 24-18 in a Rugby World Cup warmup game at Loftus Versfeld, keeping the newly crowned southern hemisphere champion unbeaten this season.

Jantjies scored 14 points off the kicking tee to go with a brace of tries by wing S'busiso Nkosi.

The Springboks were not convincing but did enough with most of their first-choice players taking a rest ahead of the World Cup in Japan next month.

Argentina appeared to be struggling again in the first half after losing 46-13 to the Boks in the final round of the Rugby Championship last weekend. But an intercept try by lock Guido Petti right on halftime gave the Pumas hope — and a surprise 10-8 lead at the break.

Captain Pablo Matera scored in the second half to make it 18-18 and raise hopes of a first win in South Africa since 2015.

Jantjies kicked two late penalties, the second of which sealed victory when it appeared Argentina had won it at the death.

Center Mensa sliced through a splintered South Africa defense in the 77th minute during a counterattack started from deep by replacement Benjamin Urdapilleta.

But the referee reviewed TV replays and decided Argentina's Jeronimo De La Fuente obstructed South Africa's Vincent Koch and prevented him making a tackle on Urdapilleta early in the move.

Mensa's try, which would have put Argentina 23-21 ahead with a conversion near the posts to come, was disallowed.

Jantjies landed the penalty to complete a solid night for the backup No. 10.

Right wing Nkosi produced two high-quality finishes, one in each half, to also remind Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus of his pedigree.

His first try came when he broke clear out wide, stepped inside his marker and burst through the tackle of Pumas scrumhalf Felipe Ezcurra. Nkosi beat three defenders, one with a step, one with his strength, and the third with pace to score in the right corner again early in the second half.

South Africa gave up the first half lead while on the attack after the hooter when scrumhalf Cobus Reinach threw a long, optimistic pass and second-rower Petti snapped it up and impressively ran more than 50 meters the other way, outpacing the Springboks cover.

South Africa pushed ahead again in the second half but couldn't completely shake off the persistent Pumas, who drew level at 18-18 when Matera took a short ball on the angle after a lineout to crash over.

South Africa didn't start any of its frontline players with the exception of captain Siya Kolisi, who made a successful return from injury before being replaced early in the second half.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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