Oz press praises Wallabies
Sydney - The Wallabies achieved one of their most courageous overseas Test victories against the Springboks at the weekend to push their World Cup claims, Australian newspapers said on Monday.
The Australians kept alive their Tri-Nations campaign with a hard fought 14-9 win over South Africa in Durban, the third time the Wallabies have beaten the Springboks on their home turf in the past four seasons.
The Wallabies bounced back from their 30-14 drubbing by the All Blacks the previous weekend in Auckland to produce one of their most committed defensive performances to keep the Springboks try-less.
The Australian press described the Wallabies' latest win as crucial.
"With less than a month before the World Cup, this victory is crucial," The Sydney Morning Herald said.
"Winning tight games is vital for any team that wants to take itself seriously.
"And they are now getting the core of a World Cup contingent that can at least consider itself semi-finalist material. From then on, an intercept pass, a chance moment -well anything can happen. Just ask the All Blacks (they lost 2003 World Cup semi-final largely on a Wallaby intercept try)."
The Herald said the Wallabies enjoyed one of their most courageous of overseas Test triumphs in recent times.
"The Wallabies have always been good defenders, but they really pushed it up a level at Kings Park, tackling with tenacity and stopping an always direct opposition who were as intent as the Wallabies on ignoring every safety warning," it said.
"At the ground, you could hear the collisions as the bodies of the Wallabies and Springboks hurtled at each other, and you shuddered.
"This was Test football at its most physical and most engrossing. And often in the past, the Wallabies have been distracted, even overwhelmed by such intensity. Not this time."
The Australian said the Wallabies showed from the outset that they were prepared to make hard tackles and work as a team.
"There was clearly a strong emphasis on not just making tackles, but executing dominant tackles," it said.
"Captain and blindside flank Rocky Elsom set the tone when he upended second-rower and enforcer Bakkies Botha in the second minute.
"Elsom was penalised for a dangerous tackle, but in those situations it is worth three points to make a statement of intent.
"You do not achieve hard-fought victories on South African soil without a tightly bonded group of players."
The Daily Telegraph said the Wallabies' come-from-behind triumph "drew out the poise under fire and thundering physical commitment away from home that is essential for the Wallabies to succeed in the World Cup knockout matches."
No Wallabies team in 11 years had kept the Springboks try-less on their own turf, The Daily Telegraph said.