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Boks stay alive with dominant show

Sat, 28 Sep 2013 16:58
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Tournament decider awaits at Ellis Park
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South Africa stayed alive in the Rugby Championship with a dominant 28-8 victory over Australia in Cape Town on Saturday.

Despite not getting the much-needed bonus point at Newlands, the Springboks know they go into next week's encounter with the All Blacks at Ellis Park with a real chance to winning the tournament.

There must be something in the grass or the climate of the place. Western Province can get three quick tries at Newlands with a lot of time to play but they cannot get four, and the same was true of the Springboks on Saturday.

They scored two tries in 14 minutes and one 57 minutes later. And in between it was drab, an exercise in somnambulism, till the last 10 minutes set off an alarm clock and the match woke up.

Jannie du Plessis and then Morné Steyn led the Springboks out. each one playing his 50th Test.

There was 'silence' before the start to honour the recent dead - Fritz Eloff, Koos Basson, young Kwena Moremi, who drowned, and Wallaby great John Hipwell. Not that Newlands does silence well.

It is hard to think of a more disappointing Springbok victory for South Africa's ardent fans. And if you listened to the national anthem you new how ardent and fervent those 46 052 fans were.

Steyn kicked off and that crowd roared, releasing the pent-up expectation of recent weeks. Newlands seldom gets a Test these days and this crowd was going to make the most of it.

The Wallabies were penalised at the first scrum when James Slipper nosedived. It was kickable, but Steyn kicked out for a line-out. Again the crowd roared - approval this time at the obvious intent to score tries.

Then things got messy. The Springboks mauled, James Horwill charged in to drive Francois Louw, the back player, to ground.  Stephen Moore swung a boot round the ball and nudged it back to his side.

Then the Springboks conceded two penalties in quick succession - Willem Alberts for obstruction in a tangle with Adriaan Strauss and Duane Vermeulen for being offside. Christian Leali'ifano goaled - 3-0 after sixminutes.

When James Horwill was penalised at a tackle, the Springboks decided that, this time, they would kick for goal - 3-3 after eightminutes and the paso doble sounded over Newlands  for an extra cheer.

The Wallabies went offside for a most kickable penalty but the Springboks kicked out for a five-metre line-out. They bashed closer and closer till Du Preez, with a pod of three possible runners picked Strauss who sliced over between two Wallabies - 10-3 after 13 minutes.

The Wallabies kicked off and Flip van der Merwe rose up to catch the ball. The Springboks formed a maul and drove it down the field. The Wallabies pulled it down and the referee played advantage. The Springboks went right with long passes. Jean de Villiers found JJ Engelbrecht on an overlap and the rangy centres raced down the touchline before playing inside to Zane Kirchner who put Israel Folau on his back with a inside swerve and scored the brilliant try - 17-3 after 24 minutes. The crowd could see a bonus point in flashing lights.

The Wallabies were penalised at a tackle and Steyn made it 20-3.

Michael Hooper was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle of the tip type and Steyn made it 23-3, which was the half-time score, though not before Van der Merwe had been sin-binned for a dangerous tackle in which his elbow played a leading role.

It was obvious in this half that the Springboks were getting much quicker ball from the tackle than the Wallabies but increasing laissez faire at the offside line at the ruck offset the advantage of quick ball. This became more obvious in the second half.
 
At the start of the second half Will Genia was on for the Wallabies and soon afterwards Van der Merwe returned and Bismarck du Plessis entered the fray. The crowd cheered loudly but not as loudly as when Siya Kolisi came on.

Play was desultory. Both sides did things meant to add urgency, like tapping penalties, but to no avail.

The Wallabies attacked and Vermeulen knocked down a pass, thus incurring a yellow card. That of so obtuse in this day and age when knocking down an opponent's pass has become a mandatory yellow card. So off Vermeulen went.

The Springboks made a penalty into a five-metre line-out and bashed till Du Preez picked out Willie le Roux with a perfect past. Le Roux flashed past Bernard Foley and scored in the corner - 28-3 after 71 minutes. Steyn's conversion fell short of the try-line, a symbol of the lethargy of the day.

The Wallabies tapped a penalty in their own 22 and Matt Toomua broke, racing down the field. The Wallabies threw in quickly from touch on the right side and Quade Cooper, who had been incognito for most of the match, hoisted a brilliant diagonal kick to the left wing Chris Feauai-Sautia. who caught it on the full, stumbled but was up and  over for the try - 28-8 with two minutes to play.

The Springboks showed zest but the Wallabies coped with them effectively.

Man of the Match: There is no debate about this one - Fourie du Preez. He was at the breakdown, stooped and eager to distribute. He kicked two up-and-unders and both were perfect.

Moment of the Match: It was not really in the match but the singing of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was the most special happening of the day.

Villain of the Match: I suppose the four recipients of yellow cards qualify but snarling Stephen Moore was not someone to admire.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries:
Strauss, Kirchner, Le Roux
Cons: Steyn 2
Pens: Steyn 3

For Australia:
Try:
Feauai-Sautia
Pen: Lealiifano

Yellow cards: Michael Hooper (Australia, 28 - foul play, spear tackle), Flip van der Merwe (South Africa, 39 - foul play, elbow in the face), Duane Vermeulen (South Africa, 66 - professional foul, slapping the ball down), Sitaleki Timani (Australia, 74 - foul play, elbow into a player on the ground)

Teams:

South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana,  10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Chris Feauai-Sautia.

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Pascal Gauzère (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

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