Rugby Championship

Boks stutter to Wallabies draw in Bloem

2017-09-30 18:53
Eben Etzebeth and Michael Hooper (Gallo)

Bloemfontein - A thrilling Rugby Championship clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday night saw the Springboks and Wallabies play out to a 27-27 draw. 

This follows the 23-23 draw between the sides in Perth earlier this month and it is a result that does not do anything for under-fire Bok coach Allister Coetzee.

Bok supporters were left drained as they watched their side take the lead, and then lose it, numerous times.

Referee Ben O'Keeffe was also a central figure in the contest, with his handling of an incident in the first half between Eben Etzebeth, Israel Folau and Dillyn Leyds not sitting well with the large majority of the Bloemfontein crowd.

Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies had a chance to win the game in the 79th minute with a penalty from out left, but he missed to the right. 

It was clear from the kick-off that the Boks were in a running mood. Much of the talk during the week had centred around a ball-in-hand approach, and the Boks looked fearless in the early stages as they attacked from deep. 

The signs were encouraging, but there was no early reward. 

Instead, the Wallabies struck first when fullback Folau finished off a clinically executed backline move from a scrum that showed just how dangerous the Australian backs could be. 

Foley added the extras, and with the Boks 7-0 down, the Bloemfontein crowd went silent. 

The Boks hit back well.

Skipper Etzebeth turned down a chance to get on the board with three points, opting instead for the lineout. 

The resulting rolling maul was well defended as the Boks went nowhere, but a few phases later Ruan Dreyer went crashing over to level matters as Jantjies added the extra two. 

Uzair Cassiem, meanwhile, was replaced by Jean-Luc du Preez with what looked to be a rib injury.

The helter skelter nature of the opening quarter died down somewhat as Foley and Jantjies exchanged penalties to make it 10-10, but the Boks were beginning to show a weakness at scrum time and a second penalty in quick succession in that department allowed Foley to knock a goal over from right in front as the visitors took a 13-10 lead. 

Things got heated on 35 minutes when, with the Boks on the attack, Leyds was pulled down in bizarre fashion. Folau was the 'tackler', and Etzebeth was having none of it as he charged over to the Aussie fullback and wrestled him to the ground.

As referee O'Keeffe examined the replays of the incident, the crowd roared in anger when Folau could clearly be seen pulling Leyds' hair on the big screen. 

But the Kiwi match official opted against dishing out any cards in what was the final big moment in the half as the Wallabies took a 13-10 lead into half time.

The Boks needed a good start after the break, and that is exactly what they got in a half of rugby that would prove to be a roller-coaster of emotions.

Siya Kolisi has been massive for this side in 2017 and he sparked what was a crucial score for the Boks. With just a couple of minutes gone in the second period, Kolisi went charging down the right touchline and crashed over Kurtley Beale. 

Kolisi offloaded inside to Leyds, who managed to scramble a pass away to Jan Serfontein. The Bulls centre finished off the move, Jantjies converted, and the Boks were 17-13 up. 

It was short-lived. 

Having just created a try, Kolisi then cost his side one when he slipped a routine tackle on Foley. 

The Wallaby flyhalf broke through and offloaded to wing Marika Koroibete, who cantered in for a try to take the lead back. 

The response, once more, was on point from a Springbok side that was throwing everything at it. 

A good period of enterprising attack got the reward when Courtnall Skosan spotted a gap to finish off, but again the Boks could not hold onto their lead. 

24-20 up, the hosts found themselves defending on their line again. With men sucked in, the hosts were left short out wide and the Wallabies swung it left where Koroibete dived in for his second of the night. 

As the final quarter approached, the Springboks were 27-24 down and needed a big effort from their bench to get over the line.

It may very well have been game over the Boks were it not for a courageous tackle from scrumhalf Ross Cronje, who stopped a charging Tevita Kuridrani when a try looked certain. 

The Boks were always looking to attack, but when they were awarded a penalty just under 50m out, Etzebeth opted to take a shot at goal. 

It was right on the edge of Jantjies' range, but the Bok No 10 showed great composure to kick the points and draw the Boks level, setting up an enthralling last 10 minutes.

The Boks kept pushing and threatened to score down the left before the Aussies infringed on the ground, giving Jantjies an opportunity to win the game from the left touchline. 

Having not missed a kick all night, Jantjies pulled his golden chance to the right.

By the end, there were bodies lying everywhere as both sides left nothing in the tank.

Scorers:

South Africa

Tries: Ruan Dreyer, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan

Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3)

Penalties: Jantjies (2)

Australia

Tries: Israel Folau, Marika Koroibete (2)

Conversions: Bernard Foley (3)

Penalties: Foley (2)

Teams:

South Africa

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Francois Louw, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende

Australia

15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Lukhan Tui, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Samu Kerevi

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