Springboks sink Wallabies in Port Elizabeth

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Defence wins championships.

The Springboks have tackled themselves to the point of exhaustion and subsequently kept the Wallabies searching for another way back into the winners' circle with a remarkable 23-12 win at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

After defending their line like their lives depended on it in New Zealand the Springboks did exactly the same on Saturday night.

They made an immense 148 tackles to the Wallabies' 71 and made them when the match was on the line.

That was in the 20 minutes after half time as the Australians enjoyed 78 percent total territory in the second half.

Wave after wave of Wallabies attack was repelled as the Boks proved they are the real deal in front of 41,332 rabid South African fans.

While it marks the Wallabies' eighth loss in their last 10 matches there were positives to take from this match.

David Pocock was incredible.He had three pilfers in the first half alone and was easily the best Australian player on the field.

Michael Hooper worked hard in Port Elizabeth. Photo: AFPMichael Hooper was similarly immense.

Kurtley Beale looked far more dangerous at flyhalf despite a disastrous blunder in the first minute and Will Genia was at his world class best.

The Australian attack subsequently looked far more unpredictable and that part of their game is back on track.

But as good as that trio was some glaring errors remain.

The lineout has still not been fixed and it cost the Australians three golden attacking opportunities.

There are also far too many flippant mistakes being made.

That all started in the opening minute.

After receiving the ball from the kick off the Wallabies took the ball to ground and from the following phase Beale tried to throw a looping cutout pass no more than 10 metres from his own line.

Superstar South African winger Aphiwe Dyantyi read the play like a book, picked the ball off and sent Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium into raptures with just 24 seconds on the clock.The Wallabies stunted the Boks in attack. Photo: Getty ImagesIf they weren’t already intimidated by the 45,000 strong crowd the Australians certainly were now.

It took them a solid 20 minutes to get back into the game.

In that time two things became crystal clear.

Folau Faingaa was seriously struggling in his first Test start and the Boks had decided pre-game they would stop the cross field kicks to Israel Folau by any means possible.

The home side also crossed for their second when Handre Pollard slipped past a Faingaa tackle, found Faf de Klerk on his inside shoulder and put him over.

It was 14-0 and the way the match was trending a blood bath beckoned.

Two men kept the Wallabies in the match.

Pocock had three first half pilfers alone but it was Genia who sparked the Australian attack.

All of a sudden it looked unpredictable and that’s the way the Wallabies nabbed both their first half tries.

The first, to Reece Hodge in the 27th minute, was created by a sublime Genia cutout which was extremely high risk but just as high reward.

He put it over the top of two teammates and the hands of Dyantyi, Hodge putting the finishing touch on the play.

The Australian halfback was equal parts creator and scorer for the next five pointer which came just four minutes after Hodge touched down.

A half chance was created near the halfway line when Haylett-Petty popped the ball to Hodge and that’s all Genia needed.

The Springboks have a narrow half-time lead. Photo: AFPHe drew Cheslin Kolbe and put Marika Koroibete away - the Fijian flyer popping the ball back inside to his halfback to leave the match poised at 14-12.

A pair of Pollard penalties in the minutes before half time sent the Boks into the sheds with an eight point lead.

The only addition to the scoreboard in the next 40 minutes was another Pollard penalty.

The Australians set up shop inside the Boks 22 but could not manufacture the points they craved.

The home side were as tough as teak and every time a half chance reared its head some miraculous scrambling defence saved the day.

They also gave away their fair share of penalties.

That eventually resulted in Dyantyi being sent to the sin bin for repeated offences in the 65th minute.

Michael Hooper had turned down a shot at goal time after time and the Wallabies had to pounce with a one man advantage.

But another lost lineout dashed their hopes of narrowing the deficit and 10 minutes later Dyantyi reentered the fray.

The match was won right there.

The Springboks defence which was on show for all to see in New Zealand was there again on Saturday night and that was the difference in this Test match.

It was an improved Wallabies performance on many fronts but the cold hard fact remains that they have won just two of eight Tests this season.

The Pumas await next Saturday in Salta.

RESULT

Springboks 23

Tries: Dyantyi, de Klerk

Cons: Pollard 2

Pens: Pollard 3

Wallabies 12

Tries: Hodge, Genia

Cons: Toomua