Dream debut for Hendrikse as South Africa beat Argentina

Gqeberha (South Africa) (AFP) –


Jaden Hendrikse, called into the matchday 23 just hours before kick-off, came off the bench to score and earn South Africa a bonus-point 32-12 win over Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The scrum-half dived over in the corner to secure the third try in Gqeberha that left the Springboks level with New Zealand on five points at the top of the table after the first round.

Hendrikse woke on Saturday believing he would watch the match from the stand at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in the eastern Cape city formerly called Port Elizabeth.

But when a hip niggle ruled out Herschel Jantjies, Hendrikse took his place on the bench and came on seven minutes from time in place of Cobus Reinach.

After scoring two tries within 18 minutes of the kick-off through Reinach and winger Aphelele Fassi, the world champion Springboks were running out of time to claim a third and an extra point.

Then, replacements Marco van Staden, Morne Steyn and Hendrikse combined to give the 21-year-old scrum-half a fairytale start as a Springbok.

Van Staden charged for the line and when he was held up, the ball moved to Steyn, whose pass sent Hendrikse over to seal a clinical 20-point victory.

Scoring completed a remarkable turnaround for Hendrikse, who did not make the 46-man Springbok squad chosen in June for Tests against Georgia and the British and Irish Lions.

He was then sent off for elbowing Wales full-back Liam Williams when playing for his franchise, the Sharks, in a heavy loss to the Lions.

But after serving a three-match suspension, he caught the eye of Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber and was called up last week as cover after first-choice scrum-half Faf de Klerk was injured.

It was a solid rather than spectacular victory for South Africa, who rested 10 of the team that started a series-winning victory over the Lions in Cape Town last weekend.