Springboks vs Wallabies: Five things we learned

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

What are we talking about after South Africa's 18-10 win over the Wallabies?

1. Chances go begging

The Wallabies had the weight of possession and territory throughout the arm wrestle at Loftus but failed to make the Springboks pay. Three missed penalty goals from Reece Hodge were symptomatic of Australia’s patchy finishing, but they were far from the only points that went begging for the Wallabies. Knock ons and penalties deep in South African territory put the Wallabies on the back foot just as they began to build pressure. This game was a winnable one for Australia, and they became the Mr Hyde to their Dr Jekyll.

2. McMahon doing his best Pocock impression

Sean McMahon was in beast mode on Sunday morning, showing off his improvement over the ball in the early stages. His desperation in the breakdown was crucial for the Wallabies’ early dominance, and a crucial turnover in the opening 10 minutes.

Sean McMahon will be sweating over an injury. Photo: Getty ImagesAn ankle injury might just have cruelled his chances of cementing the number eight spot, with the Rebels backrower coming off at half-time with the injury. Lopeti Timani would be the obvious choice to come into the starting XV should McMahon fail to overcome the issue before next weekend’s clash with Los Pumas.

3. Lineout exposed again

Adam Coleman continues to impress in Wallaby gold. Photo: Getty ImagesThey had a perfect return against Argentina but the Wallabies’ set piece concerns were exposed again in Pretoria. Despite having plenty of lineout options, especially after the replacement of Sean McMahon with Scott Fardy, Australia lost three lineouts against their throw. Adam Coleman was once again a shining light for the Wallabies across the field, in his first 80-minute Test run.

4. Folau’s roller coaster continues

Israel Folau admitted a fortnight ago that 2016 had been his toughest Wallabies season yet and the fullback didn’t get much more joy in Pretoria. Folau looked ominous in the opening half, making some early breaks as the Wallabies enjoyed some attacking freedom. A 34th-minute yellow card halted his momentum and from there the Springboks managed to squeeze back the momentum. He barely found the ball in the second stanza. He finished with 60 run metres, three offloads and three tackle and another week to try and rediscover some of the form that made him a global superstar. On the flip side, the other fullback in the side - Dane Haylett-Petty - starred, dangerous in attack and racking up 121 run metres, by far the highest across either team, as well as five tackle breaks.

5. Strauss says farewell in style

Adriaan Strauss was a standout in Pretoria. Photo: Getty imgesThere wasn’t much in the way of attacking penetration from the Springboks on Sunday morning, but when there was it was often captain Adriaan Strauss who found his way through the line. In his final Test at Loftus, the Springboks captain led his side  in run metres, with 70, putting the Wallabies under immense pressure. It was a game of stellar individual performances fro the Springboks, with Morne Steyn booting all 18 points for South Africa, in his first Test start since 2014.

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