Springboks strike late for victory


South Africa - 22 Australia - 16: A penalty and a drop goal in the last seven minutes helped South Africa begin the defence of their Tri-Nations title with a victory over Australia in the opening game in Pretoria on Saturday.

The Springboks continued with the ball-in-hand approach which earned a 33-20 win over the Wallabies in Johannesburg last weekend.

Slick handling by the South African backs gave them a try 11 minutes into the second half when Percy Montgomery made a half-break to send wing Breyton Paulse speeding down the right touchline. Montgomery converted and the Springboks had drawn level at 13-13 after trailing 13-6 at half-time.

Flanker George Smith dived over for Australia's only try a minute before the break.

With seven minutes remaining, replacement scrumhalf Enrico Januarie snapped up a loose ball after a Paulse up-and-under and loose forward Joe van Niekerk's charge drew a penalty at the ruck. Montgomery booted a kick 10 metres in from touch before outhalf Andre Pretorius made it 22-16 with a drop goal in the final minute.

Fullback Montgomery finished with three penalties, a conversion and a first-half drop goal while centre Matt Giteau landed three penalties and a conversion for the visitors.

The Springboks maintained their unbeaten home record under coach Jake White and travel to Cape Town to play New Zealand on Saturday.

Australia, who have never won at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld, get a two-week break before taking on the All Blacks in Sydney on August 13th.

SOUTH AFRICA: Montgomery; Paulse, Fourie, de Villiers, Habana; Pretorius, du Preez; Cronje, Smith, van Niekerk, Matfield, Botha, van der Linde, Smit (capt), Steenkamp. Replacements: S Burger for Cronje (51 mins), W Jules for de Villiers (58 mins), A van den Berg for Matfield (62 mins), G Botha for Linde (67 mins), E Januarie for Du Preez (68 mins).

AUSTRALIA: Latham; Sailor, Turinui, Giteau, Tuqiri; Larkham, Gregan (capt); Roe, Smith, Waugh, Sharpe, Vickerman, Dunning, Paul, Young. Replacements: A Baxter for Dunning (45 mins), S Mortlock for Turinui (55 mins), M Chisholm for Vickerman (71 mins), D Mitchell for Sailor (72 mins), S Moore for Paul (77 mins).

Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand).