South Africa went on level on points with New Zealand topping the rugby league standings with a 36-20 bonus point victory over Argentina on Saturday.
An ill-disciplined Argentina recovered from 16 points less in the interval to move to two of their opponents and set a tense conclusion at the Estadio Libertadores de America.
But Damian de Allende and Malcolm Marx eventually crossed paths to add to South Africa’s three halftime tries, scoring 29 wins in their 33 tests with Argentina.
The Springboks will welcome Argentina to Durban next weekend, while New Zealand – which boasts a better points difference – will host Australia with their own destiny in their own hands.
South Africa fell behind at the start on Emiliano Boffelli’s penalty, but responded with a Damian Willemse kick and the opening try followed 10 minutes later.
Offside Santiago Carreras attempted to stop Jaden Hendrikse from putting the ball down and a penalty try was awarded, including a yellow card from the upper half.
Boffelli brings Argentina back to four points from the boot, but the ball is thrown to Hendrikse who bursts under the sticks to give the Boks breath.
After Willemse added the extras, the guests pushed and had a third try with Marx, who fell due to a prolonged period of pressure.
Argentina’s recovery hopes were further dented when referee James Doleman sinned Gonzalo Bertranou after losing his temper over a string of infractions.
South Africa failed to put the game entirely out of reach and dropped to 14 after a previously booked Willie Le Roux went offside.
Tomas Cubelli appeared to have knocked the ball over while reloading and attempting to land, but Kwagga Smith was deemed to have intervened illegally and was given a penalty try.
Smith was also cautioned for that infraction, but it was the Boks who finished the strongest when De Allende and Marx added two more tries to seal what looked like an unlikely bonus point.
Boks takes it to the wire
South Africa have struggled for consistency in what has been an all-out championship, but streak victories for the second time this year have them in contention.
Some inept refereeing could very well be the big talking point to emerge from this contest, even if the Springboks have done what they were asked to do and now they need a favor from Australia.
The Argi lose their minds
Argentina defeated both New Zealand and Australia in this campaign, but were too undisciplined against South Africa and lost their heads in the final stages.
With this defeat, Los Pumas’ anticipation of streak home wins will extend to their eleventh year.