Wallabies blow blunderBoks away
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH REPORT: Australia snuffed out South Africa’s chance of defending their title when they blew them away with a bonus-point win in Brisbane on Saturday.
Outscoring the Springboks by four tries to one, the Wallabies went back-to-back against the Boks for the first time in five years – winning 30-17 and reclaiming the Mandela Plate SA has held since 2019.
To make matter worse, the result will see South Africa being knocked off first place in the world rankings.
The Boks were their own worst enemies in an error-prone performance.
In the first half, South Africa missed 12 of their 31 tackle attempts and by the end of the game that stat went to 19 from 69 – a tackle success rate of barely 70 percent.
The Wallabies countered their maul brilliantly and outplayed the Boks at their own kicking game, at the breakdown and being more creative.
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Taniela Tupou showed his many talents as the Wallabies overcame a lopsided penalty count and another controversial yellow card to beat world champions for a second-straight weekend.
Australia were clinical early in a 10th-straight win at Lang Park, with wing Marika Koroibete and outside centre Len Ikitau both notching doubles.
The victory shot the Wallabies up two spots to a three-year high of third in the world rankings – they were seventh this time last week – while the Springboks could relinquish top spot if New Zealand beat Argentina by at least 15 points in the later game in Brisbane.
Australia’s four tries were the most in a Test against the Springboks in 10 years and came in Michael Hooper’s 60th game in charge, the flank again a constant menace as he broke George Gregan’s record as most-capped skipper.
The win came despite a 17-9 penalty count in South Africa’s favour and moment of near-calamity as back row forward Lachie Swinton narrowly avoided a second red card of his young career.
Referee Luke Pearce had all but sent off Swinton before reconsidering and downgrading to a yellow card for his high contact on Duane Vermeulen late in the first half.
The near 40,000-strong Lang Park crowd still saw red despite Pearce rightly determining, after much deliberation, Swinton’s shoulder-to-shoulder contact came slightly before the pair clashed heads.
Prop Tupou was monumental in a 78-minute shift after getting a chance to start, two big runs setting up first-half tries and then a deft no-look pass on the run to Koroibete in the second half creating a third.
Fullback Tom Banks was also in fine form before copping a knock in a tackle and suffering a suspected broken arm.
The Wallabies led 15-6 but constant Handre Pollard penalty kicks – and a Am Lukhanyo try after the break – saw the visitors edge ahead 17-15.
Quade Cooper steadied the hosts with a penalty before two expansive tries to Koroibete shot them clear.
They then repelled 10 minutes of Springboks attack on their own line to seal one of the most impressive performances under second-year coach Dave Rennie.
The bonus-point victory keeps Australia’s faint Rugby Championship hopes alive ahead of back-to-back Tests against Argentina in the next fortnight.
Man of the match: Only one team is in the picture – truly a one-horse race. Len Ikitau scored a double and so did Marika Koroibete. Taniela Tupou was good value in a tight five that stood their ground. Our award goes to Wallaby captain and flank Michael Hooper – who was solid with ball in hand, made a match-high 20 tackles and won several crucial breakdown turnovers.
Tries: Ikitau 2, Koroibete 2
Cons: Cooper 2
Pens: Cooper 2
For South Africa
Pens: Pollard 4
Yellow card: Francois de Klerk (South Africa, 9 – cynical foul, slapping ball out of opponent’s hand), Lachlan Swinton (Australia, 32 – foul play, dangerous high tackle), Jasper Wiese (South Africa, 79 – foul play, dangerous clean-out at ruck)
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)