By Rex Gowar
Aug 21 (Reuters) - Is the Springbok harder to tame than the Puma? Even when the Puma is stronger?
Argentina have come very close to beating South Africa, not least in the Rugby Championship two years ago, but have fallen short in all 18 attempts.
But the Pumas are confident they have the team to do it this year after a narrow 13-6 loss to the Springboks in Pretoria last weekend, and will try again in Salta on Saturday (1940 GMT).
South Africa have refused to go under to Argentina even when, as visitors facing the might of the Pumas pack and the roar of their intimidating support, a defeat looked inevitable.
The Springboks go into their first match in Salta, in the far northwestern corner of Argentina, with the added incentive of staying top of the Championship standings after holders New Zealand drew with Australia in the Sydney opener.
Looking to improve aspects of their game, notably in the set pieces where they were often outsmarted by Argentina, coach Heyneke Meyer has brought back flanker Juan Smith from a test absence of nearly four years.
"Our lineouts are an important attacking platform and we need to improve this week - I'm sure Juan will add another dimension," Meyer told reporters after naming his team in the capital on Wednesday.
"We're looking forward to the challenge. Although we were happy with the result in Pretoria, we were not happy with the performance and this is an opportunity to show improvement against a tough opponent away from home."
Meyer made three changes, all in the pack, which stand in contrast to the two changes made in the backs by Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade, who has included Juan Martin Hernandez after he missed last Saturday's action with a muscle problem.
"This is a clear indication of the worries we gave them in winning the ball," Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade said. "They'll come here to try to correct that aspect and it's going to be another challenge for us."
Argentina should have broken their Springboks duck when they were held 16-16 in Mendoza in their maiden championship season in 2012 and went close last year when they lost 22-17 at the same venue.
"Obviously the result is always important, but as long as we take steps forward, that's also a good result," Hourcade told reporters in Salta.
"I think that if we have a good match, we have the possibility of winning it. We'll go out to win as we always do.
"My heart always tells me we have what it takes to make a breakthrough. Today it would be a breakthrough. The idea is to be their equals in the future."
Argentina: 15-Joaquin Tuculet, 14-Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 13-Marcelo Bosch, 12- Juan Martin Hernandez, 11-Manuel Montero, 10-Nicolas Sanchez, 9-Martin Landajo; 8-Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 7-Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6-Paul Matera, 5-Thomas Lavanini, 4-Mariano Galarza, 3-Ramiro Herrera 2-Agustin Creevy (captain), 1-Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16-Matias Cortese, 17-Bruno Postiglioni, 18-Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19-Matias Alemanno, 20-Leonardo Senatore, 21-Tomas Cubelli, 22-Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23-Horacio Agulla
South Africa: 15-Willie le Roux; 14-Cornal Hendricks, 13-Damian de Allende, 12-Jean de Villiers (captain), 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Juan Smith, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Lood de Jager, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Tendai Mtawarira, 18-Frans Malherbe, 19-Bakkies Botha, 20-Marcell Coetzee, 21-Francois Hougaard, 22-Morne Steyn, 23-Lwazi Mvovo
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia) (Editing by Tim Collings)