Springboks claim long overdue win in Australia
August 20, 2005
Bryan Habana races down the wing to score
© Getty Images
Defending Tri-Nations champions South Africa kept one hand on the trophy as they claimed their first win in Australia since 1998 with a hard fought 22-19 win over the Wallabies.
The Springboks kept their 100% record in this years tournament to remain top of the table and could successfully defend their title if they win in Dunedin against the formidable All Blacks next weekend.
An injury-ridden Australia showed plenty of heart to almost steal the win, but plenty of guts and a lot of heart was not quite enough.
South Africa scored two tries to one, with winger Bryan Habana scoring both for the boks - both of them scorching counter-attacking runs from his own line. Percy Montgomery failed with both conversions but claimed three penalties and a drop goal.
Former u-21 Springbok captain Clyde Rathbone scored Australia's try while Matt Rogers added the conversion to three penalties while Matt Giteau also stroked over a penalty.
Australia were desperate to avoid a fourth successive defeat and game out of the blocks firing. They attacked with intent and threatened the Springbok line from the very start.
However when no.8 David Lyons knocked in the bok 22, the omnipresent Schalk Burger pounced on the ball and after linking up well with centres Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie, Habana was released and thundered past the Wallaby defence for the opening five pointer.
Fullback Percy Montgomery missed with the conversion and then looked set to have a nightmare day with the boot as he failed to extend South Africa's lead with two penalties.
The wallabies, who had to reshuffle their back line just before the start after Elton Flatley pulled out with blurred vision, kept up the pressure and hit back with a Matt Giteau penalty.
Once again South Africa's forwards out muscled their Australian counterparts, although the superb Phil Waugh more than matched the bok back row. However where as Waugh arrived to the breakdown alone, Burger, Joe van Niekerk and Juan Smith hunted as a trio and subsequently got the upper hand.
As usual, the wallaby pack creaked and groaned - especially in the scrum where prop Bill Young was targeted once more. Their lineout was much better though with Brendan Cannon finding his jumpers more often than not.
Matt Rogers, Morgan Turinui and Lote Tuqiri were full of running, however the boks rush defence often forced them into making mistakes and they were often guilty of trying to hurry the play.
Both sides were guilty of slowing the ball down and after a sustained attack by Australia, referee Alain Rolland finally had enough after the winger Breyton Paulse came off sides to hack a ball clear.
However the South Africans rallied and had the better of that ten minutes by adding three points through a Montgomery penalty.
Habana should have score his second when a Burger break set up a try-scoring opportunity for him out wide, but this time the boks were guilty of rushing and Andre Pretorius' long pass was knocked on.
Montgomery eventually found his range and landed two more successful penalties to trump a penalty each by Matt Giteau and Mat Rogers to take South Africa to a 14-6 lead at half time.
Under fire coach Eddie Jones rallied his troops at the break and they came out with fire in their bellies. Rogers stroked over an early penalty to narrow the score to 14-9.
South Africa blew another chance when a desperate cover tackle from Clyde Rathbone brought Paulse down after a great build-up from Burger and prop Steenkamp, however a wonderfully struck drop-goal from the halfway line by Montgomery put them 17-9 ahead.
Rathbone then scored Australia's try after Turinui broke through Pretorius and then timed his pass to perfection which Rogers converted to cut the deficit to just one point.
The record 43,278 crowd at the Subiaco Stadium sensed a turnaround of fortunes for the Wallabies and urged them on. Rogers put Australia ahead for the first time after Bakkies Botha was penalized for a high tackle on Giteau.
South Africa looked slightly ragged and more chinks were appearing in their defence, Australia were keeping possession and looked eager to claim a try of their own.
However, going into their 10th phase, Rogers knocked on and the Springboks counter-attacked as the ball was passed to Habana who showed Drew Mitchell a clean pair of heels for his second try.
Montgomery failed with the conversion, but the try gave the Springboks confidence, while Australia quietly faded away.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
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