Springboks heap woe on Wallabies
September 29, 2012
South Africa winger Bryan Habana grabbed three tries as his side ended a run of five straight defeats to Australia
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Story of the Game
South Africa rediscovered their best form to crush Australia 31-8 in their Rugby Championship clash in Pretoria.
Winger Bryan Habana stole the show with vintage display on his way to a hat-trick of tries but the first bonus point victory in this year's battle for southern hemisphere was built on a dominant display by a fired-up Springboks pack.
The under-fire Wallabies had little answer to their hosts' physicality and it also took an alarming toll with Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Radike Samo, Digby Ioane and Tatafu Polota-Nau adding to an already epic injury list. And it could have been worse with the Boks denied two tries by the Television Match Official and fly-half Johan Goosen and scrum-half Ruan Pienaar far from perfect from the kicking tee.
Habana, South Africa's record tryscorer, touched down in the 28th, 60th and 78th minutes while Zane Kirchner and Francois Louw also crossed as the Springboks maintained their 100 per cent record against Australia at Loftus Versfeld with a sixth win out of six.
The remainder of the home side's points came from the boot Pienaar, who converted three of the five tries, as South Africa bounced back from successive defeats on the road and climb into second place in the table. They are four points behind unbeaten leaders New Zealand ahead of the All Blacks' clash in Argentina.
Australia, whose points today came from an unconverted second-half try from Mike Harris and a Kurtley Beale penalty, are third in the standings on eight points after slumping to their third loss.
South Africa had handed the playmaking duties to 20-year-old Goosen, ahead of an out-of-sorts Morne Steyn, and he was wayward with two early penalty attempts but was heavily involved in the Boks' first two tries. He helped create the overlap for Kirchner to scramble over for the hosts' first score and almost added a second himself a few minutes later only to be denied by the TMO.
Goosen threatened again in the lead up to Habana's first try with Pienaar slotting his second conversion having taken on the kicking duties in the wake of Kirchner's opening score.
Australia's challenge faltered under near-constant pressure with fullback Berrick Barnes and then centre Adam Ashley-Cooper forced out of the game either side of a Beale penalty that offered the visitors a glimmer of hope and reduced the deficit to 14-3 at the break. Ashley-Cooper was stretched from the field and later taken to hospital having been clearly knocked out when denying Kirchner a second try with a last-ditch tackle.
South Africa turned the screw early in the second half with Louw powering over with a little help from Habana after a rolling maul splintered Australia's defence that had moments earlier been shorn of replacement James Slipper who saw yellow for his illegal attempts to snuff out an attack.
A superb piece of quick-thinking from Habana on the hour mark then put the Boks firmly in control of the contest. The prolific speedster pounced on the ball as Australia cleared to touch on half way before firing a quick lineout to hooker Adriaan Strauss who drew the defence before feeding the ball back to Habana who raced away to score.
Pienaar added the extras before Wallabies winger Digby Ioane was the next to succumb to injury but his side rallied in his absence with Beale sparking a move that saw replacement Harris cross for a try.
But it would be as close as they would get with the Boks stepping up a gear once again against a battered and bruised Wallabies side that struggled for possession and field position despite Beale's best efforts.
Habana would have the final say two minutes from time with his pace once again the key factor against a stretched Wallabies side that had been reduced to 14-men following one final injury to hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and with all seven substitutions having already been made.
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