Springboks vs Wallabies: Five things we learned

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies have been out-gritted by the Springboks in Port Elizabeth.

What are we talking about after that?

1. Wallabies face make-or-break Argentina trek

The next seven days will be some of the most important for the Wallabies in recent memory as they travel to face the Pumas in Salta.

Australia were competitive against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth but without a pressure-relieving win, the stakes become even higher for their final 2018 Rugby Championship Test.

The Wallabies simply have to win if they want to avoid finishing last in the Rugby Championship for the first time since the four-nation format began in 2012.

Lose to Argentina and the fallout will stretch well beyond the South American border.

2. Wallabies rue points left behind

The Wallabies left a host of points on the table, turning down six seemingly straightforward penalty chances in Port Elizabeth deep in their attacking half.

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper went back to the scrum a handful of times in the space of 10 minutes and built pressure but couldn’t score.

Despite beginning to gain the ascendancy in that scum, when a yellow card was handed to Boks winger Aphiwe Dyantyi Hooper opted for a lineout and they coughed up the ball.

Choices on the run aren't black and white to judge and maybe the patchy returns of kickers Matt Toomua and Reece Hodge affected their picks but that the Wallabies couldn’t take any points from that period ultimately decided the game.

3. Springboks defend their way to glory again

The Springboks were relieved after a win in Port Elizabeth. Photo: AFPThey defended their way to victory over the All Blacks a fortnight ago and South Africa’s immense second-half defence again helped them hold off the Wallabies.

Led by a mammoth Pieter-Steph Du Toit effort, the Springboks kept Australia out as their line was peppered in the second half even after the Dyantyi yellow card.

South Africa finished with 148 tackles to the Wallabies' 71 and won seven turnovers for the clash, with many of those steals coming at pivotal times.

Those kinds of performances will do wonders for the Springboks’ confidence as they head into a World Cup year. 

4. Attack stunted as backline questions linger

The Wallabies look on paper like a team with plenty of X Factor and attacking spark but that isn't translating on the pitch.

Australia haven't scored more than 25 points in their past 10 Tests and this attack is capable of far more surely.

The playmaking duo of Kurtley Beale and Matt Toomua is still not entirely clicking but it's hard to argue to drop either one of them as an individual.

South Africa had Israel Folau's number, blocking off almost every one of his high ball opportunities and stopping him in his tracks when he did win the contest.

Usually one of Australia’s most potent attacking weapons, Folau simply wasn’t allowed to have a serious influence on the game.

When Beale went to fullback and Bernard Foley was at 10, the former looked far more settled but the form of Dane Haylett-Petty would make that switch seem an unlikely option for the start of a match.

5. Lineout a Wallabies liability

The Wallabies lineout is a glaring problem and oppositions openly admit that these days it’s an area they feel they can target. Australia lost three of their own lineouts on Sunday morning and Folau Faingaa struggled to settle into the heat of starting a Test.

They were missing usual starter Tatafu Polota-Nau there but he has not been setting the world on fire in his starts this tournament and the lineout has been a problem in almost every Test.

He might face a race against the clock to be fit for next weekend but the Leicester hooker will not be available for the third Bledisloe and the Wallabies can’t afford for their lineout to stutter like that in Japan in four weeks' time.