Steyn boots Boks to victory
MATCH REPORT: Morne Steyn scored all of the Springboks' points in a hard-fought 18-10 victory over the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
There are floods in South Africa on this, the first day of October 2016 - floods of relief.
Relief has played its part in South Africa's history - the Relief of Mafeking, the Relief of Ladysmith, the Relief of Kimberley and now the Relief of Pretoria. For it was in Pretoria, growing beautiful with the arrival of spring, that Springboks ended a cycle of dismal displays with a victory - not a sparkling victory but a victory nonetheless, and winning beats losing every time..
South Africans defended like Horatio on that bridge in Rome and won. They had to defend if they wanted to win as Australia had the vast majority of possession (79% to 21% late in the game) and territory but the Springboks kept them scoreless for all the 40 minutes of the second half.
Four things mattered most in victory - the tackling, turnovers, the props who came from the bench, the tight phases and Morné Steyn's right boot. The selection of three of the players who contributed so much to victory was the subject of gross criticism - Steyn, Adriaan Strauss and Francois Louw - the kicker and the turnover men. South African won all its own line-outs and three Australians'. After the change of the props, Australia were penalised three times at collapsed scrums, for James Slipper could not get to grips with Julian Redelinghuys.
Steyn started and ended the scoring with a dropped goal, carrying on the Loftus Versfeld tradition of Naas Botha and Derick Hougaard, and doing so in the most unruffled way. He kicked six goals, while Australia kicked two and missed three long ones.
The tribal dancer finished with his aggressive leapings and the anthems sung on a warm evening, Steyn kicked off deep to start the Test. Australia got the kick-off and started running from their own 22. When they kicked, Pat Lambie had to fetch in his 22 and then kicked it out for a line-out 10 metres inside the South African half. from the line-out Australia kept hold of the ball through phases till Louw won a turnover to get South Africa into Australian territory where Steyn dropped a goal on advantage. 3-0 after 4 minutes.
From a line-out, the Wallabies went through eight phases before Warren Whiteley was penalised. Bernard Foley goaled. 3-3 after 7 minutes.
The Springboks had a promising moment when Steyn chipped over Australian backs but it was Australia who scored next. Bryan Habana marked and kicked the free kick down into the Wallaby 22, and the Wallabies started running, building advancing phases till Michael Hooper burst ahead and the Wallabies were bashing at the line with Stephen Moore closest as they went right. Then Will Genia gave to Sekope Kepu who gave a perfect pass to Scott Sio who burst over to score under the posts, 10-4 after 14 minutes.
The final whistle sounded 66 minutes later and the Wallabies had not added a single point to their score.
Reece Hodge kicked a penalty at goal from 65 metres out. The kick was straight but the ball dipped just under the crossbar. But Steyn was more fortunate and the score was 10-6 after 25 minutes.
The Wallabies bashed at the Springboks line but Strauss won a turnover and kicked clear.
The Wallabies attacked again and looked about to score when Adam Coleman was penalised for obstruction.
Back came the Wallabies but Strauss burst downfield with the ball. The Springboks went right to Habana who chipped ahead but Israel Folau moved into his path to block him and was sent to the sin bin while Steyn goaled the resultant penalty. 10-9 after 34 minutes.
Jesse Kriel was replaced by Lionel Mapoe because of a hamstring injury. That meant that the Springboks had used half of their backline substitutes. When Habana was injured early in the second half his place was taken by Willie le Roux, and when Rudy Paige was concussed, flank Jaco Kriel had to replace him and played on the left wing while Francois Hougaard moved to scrumhalf.
On the stroke of half-time the Wallabies were penalised for being offside and Steyn goaled to make the score at the break 12-10.
Early in the second half the Springboks brought on Lood de Jager and props Steven Kitshoff and tough Julian Redelinghuys, producing a nightmare to the Wallabies at scrum time.
Hodge missed two long-range penalty attempts.
The Wallabies carried on attacking in the half and at one stage went through 10 phases before Strauss won a turnover. The Wallabies just could not score as time ran down.
With five minutes to go Hooper was penalised at a tackle and Steyn goaled. 15-10.
The Springboks were back on the attack and again the Wallabies were penalised. Steyn looked to be kicking for touch but instead tapped and the Springboks ran on attack till Hougaard passed to Steyn who calmly kicked a dropped goal from 40 metres out. 18-10 with less than a minute to go.
South Africa threw into a line-out and Hougaard kicked into the crowd for a Springbok victory after a trilogy of defeats,
Man of the Match: It was all the tenacious tacklers but if we have to go to an individual we should consider energetic Warren Whitely, strong James Redelinghuys who played less than half a match, and the duo who used turnovers to turn the game around - Francois Louw and, our man of the match, captain Adriaan Strauss for in addition to his impeccable throws into line-outs and power in the front row, added to long escapes from turnover.
Moment of the Match: The plunge that took Scott Sio over for the only try of the match.
Villain of the Match: Israel Folau for cheating.
For South Africa:
Pens: Steyn 4
Drops: Steyn 2
Yellow card: Israel Folau (Australia, 34 - professional foul, taking out a player without the ball)
South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Willie le Roux
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Tevita Kuridrani, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Johnny Lacey (Ireland), George Clancy (Ireland)
Television match official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Crowd: 38 704