South Africa give themselves a chance of catching All Blacks
Win over Australia could set up winner takes all clash next weekend
South Africa’s Andre Esterhuizen challenges Australia’s Israel Folau at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
South Africa 23 Australia 12
Wing Aphiwe Dyantyi scored a try in the opening 25 seconds as South Africa kept up their Rugby Championship momentum with a 23-12 victory over Australia at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The Springboks dominated the early part of the game, but then had to weather a ferocious assault from Australia, who were seeking a first victory on South African soil since 2011 but were let down by numerous handling errors.
Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk also scored a try for the Boks and flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked two conversions and three penalties as the South Africans backed up their stunning 36-34 victory in New Zealand a fortnight ago with another win. Australia’s tries came via centre Reece Hodge and scrumhalf Will Genia, but despite seeing much of the ball, they lacked an incisive edge in attack and slipped to a fourth defeat in five games in the competition.
The Boks scored their opening try from the kickoff as some robust tackling pushed the visitors deep into their 22 and when outhalf Kurtley Beale tried an ambitious skip-pass, Dyanti was able to collect and fall over the tryline. The first quarter was dominated by the home side as Australia made a number of unforced errors and the Boks added a second try when Pollard slipped the tackle of hooker Folau Fainga’a and set De Klerk away to canter over.
At that stage it looked as though the Boks were in complete control of the game, but two tries in three minutes saw Australia roar back into the contest. From their first meaningful attack in the Bok 22, Hodge slid home in the corner after a fine skip-pass from Genia that took out four home defenders.
And after an aimless De Klerk up-and-under, Australia created some space on the left as an exchange of passes between wing Marika Koroibete and Genia saw the latter score. Two Pollard penalties in the remainder of the first half saw the Boks extend their advantage again to 20-12 at the break.
Dyanti was caught high in a tackle that allowed Pollard to add what proved the only points of the second half from a penalty, while Australia turned down kickable penalties of their own in favour of attacking set-pieces that yielded no results.
Referee Jerome Garcia ran out of patience with repeated infringements from the home side and Dyanti received a yellow card for playing the ball on the ground that reduced the Boks to 14 players on 65 minutes. But the home side fought bravely on defence and kept the Australians scoreless for the remainder of the game to secure a scrappy victory.