Wallabies edge Boks in scrappy affair
MATCH REPORT: Australia ended their six-game losing run with a 23-17 win over South Africa at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.
It was not a game to elicit whoops of joy. It was too fragmented for that. For the Wallabies it probably evoked a smile and a sigh of relief. For the Springboks it probably called for a shrug of resignation and spectre of the trip across the Tasman next week.
The Wallabies deserved to win in Brisbane if only because they played more rugby and created more chances.
The Springboks were probably their own worst enemies, conceding eight penalties to three in the first half, handling poorly, refusing to pass to wings and then kicking on Folau throughout the match. Surely by now it must be known that it is sheer folly to kick on the best catcher of the ball in the air in the whole rugby world. After all, Aussie Rules is an Australian game where catching the ball in the air is routine.
There was that and then there was the matter of intensity. We were told that the Springboks had six forwards on the bench to maintain the intensity of their pressure on the Wallabies. Any intensity there was evaporated early in the first half and did not pick up even when 'fresh legs' were brought on. That did not work any more than the new centre pairing worked. But that is another debate.
Australia and South Africa have each played six Tests this year. The Wallabies have won one out of six, the Springboks three.
SANZAAR could save a lot of hassle if they awarded the Rugby Championship to New Zealand now and allowed the players of all four countries to put their feet up for the rest of the month.
South Africa started this match like a house on fire. Elton Jantjies kicked off, the Wallabies fought back and then Lourens Adriaanse won a turnover at a tackle and the Springboks went right where lock Eben Etzebeth, playing his 50th match, stepped and gave a perfect pass to Brian Habana who raced down the right and then passed infield to Oupa Mohoje who headed for the line. Will Genia brought Mahoje down with a tackle from behind but the Springboks stayed attacking and Warren Whitely cut back on a perfect angle to take a short pass from Faf de Klerk and score in Genia's tackle. Jantjies converted. 7-0 after 2 minutes, a perfect start for the Springboks.
The very first scrum of the game collapsed and Adriaanse was penalised. Bernard Foley goaled. 7-3 after 11 minutes.
But good fortune enabled the Springboks to extend their lead. After a line-out, Goosen, on his 10-metre line, kicked high to his right. Folau beat Habana for the high ball and Australia attacked down their left as Samu Kerevi and then Quade Cooper raced for the line. Inside the Springbok 22, Cooper was tackled and the Wallabies came right. Foley tried a skip-pass, normally a mistake, and there was Adriaan Strauss to intercept the ball. Not the speediest player, he gave to Jantjies who ran down the left and then, responding to Goosen's call, grubbered inside where Goosen and Hougaard were well ahead of David Pocock in their race to the ball, which sat up gently for Goosen who scored under the posts, and the Springboks led 14-3 after 18 minutes. 47 minutes later they scored their only other points in the match. In that time the Wallabies whittled away the lead and then passed it.
Two penalties gave the Wallabies two attacking line-outs. They mauled and then bashed and then Genia sent a long pass out to lock Adam Coleman on the left of the tackle where Habana was the sole defender. Coleman scored as Habana tackled him and Foley converted for touch. 14-10 after 28 minutes.
At this stage the Wallabies were enjoying more of possession and territory than the Springboks.
Goosen kicked on Folau and Kerevi raced away again, tackled by De Klerk. The Springboks were penalised and Foley goaled. That made the score 14-13 six minutes before half-time. That was the half-time score.
The early part of the second half was worth gold to the Wallabies. To start it off, Etzebeth was penalised at a tackle and yellowcarded. Foley goaled and the Wallabies led 16-14 after 42 minutes.
This was not a good half for the Springboks as they seemed low on energy and preferred attackers to come to them rather than they go to meet the attackers. The 'wait and tackle' policy did not work.
First Kerevi raced for the left corner where Goossen managed to tackle him. The TMO's advice to the referee was that Kerevi's thigh and his grounding of the ball had been simultaneous, and so a drop-out ensued.
In this period Goosen was attended to when he and Haylett-Petty collided in a leap for the ball, Etzebeth returned, Habana went off for a concussion test and the crowd - just over 30 thousand - did the Mexican wave.
Dean Mumm won a line-out for the Wallabies and they went through 17 advancing phases before Foley ran past Pieter-Steph du Toit and then Jantjies to score near the posts. He converted and the Wallabies led 23-14 with 18 minutes to play.
There was an interesting moment when Du Toit won the ball in a line-out and brought it down. The Springboks got into a maul formation while the Wallabies stood back. Suddenly Du Toit, who had possession of the ball turned and raced at the Wallaby line, tackled by Haylett-Petty. The Wallabies were penalised and Morné Steyn, on for Jantjies goaled. 23-17 with 15 minutes to play.
Three times in those 15 minutes the Springboks lost the ball in tackles when they were in favourable positions, but eventually a knock-on ended the match.
Man of the Match: There are obvious candidates - Dean Mumm, who healed the Wallaby line-out, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley who scored 15 points apart from other activities, and our choice, veteran scrumhalf Will Genia, clever, efficient and brave.
Moment of the Match: Johan Goosen's try for the skill and surprise of it.
Villain of the Match: Nobody really, not for the yellow card, and not for a bit of puppy snarling.
Tries: Coleman, Foley
Cons: Foley 2
Pens: Foley 3
For South Africa:
Tries: Whiteley, Goosen
Cons: Jantjies 2
Yellow card: Eben Etzebeth (South Africa, 42 - cynical play, slowing the ball down)
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Tevita Kuridrani, 23 Drew Mitchell.
South Africa: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Elton Jantjies , 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Lionel Mapoe.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Pascal Gauzère (France)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)