LONDON: Springbok great Bryan Habana was denied a World Cup record as South Africa beat Argentina 24-13 in the third place play-off, with several of their veteran stars bidding farewell to Test rugby.
Habana needed just one try to break the World Cup career record of 15 he shares with retired New Zealand star Jonah Lomu.
But in what is likely to be the 32-year-old wing’s final World Cup match, Habana squandered several chances before being taken off in the 67th minute by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Habana’s fellow wing JP Pietersen and lock Eben Etzebeth, from a Habana pass, did score tries at London’s Olympic Stadium on Friday.
Fly-half Handre Pollard kicked 14 points as South Africa, who started the tournament with a shock defeat by Japan, finished third as they did in 1999.
Springbok flanker Schalk Burger, captain for the day Victor Matfield and then Habana, all world champions in 2007, were replaced in the second half to a standing applause from a crowd of more than 55,000 as they made their farewells.
“Of course we would have loved to play for the World Cup but things didn’t go our way last week,” said Matfield of the 20-18 semi-final loss to New Zealand. “We have got a lot of respect for Argentina, the way they have played all year. Great Test victory for us, a bronze medal is better than fourth.”
Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade, meanwhile, was proud of his side’s fourth place. “We’re a little bit sad,” he said. “But we’ve done very well along the whole of the World Cup.”