Durban - A painful Tri-Nations campaign for
South Africa continued on Saturday at Kings Park as they surrendered a
six-point half-time lead and lost 14-9 to Australia.
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It was the
third southern hemisphere championship reverse on the trot for the
Springboks and while heavy losses in Australia and New Zealand were
blamed on leaving 21 mainly senior stars at home, many returned to
action for this match.
South Africa deservedly built a six-point
half-time advantage but could not maintain the momentum and lost some
crucial breakdowns while their scrum came under pressure as the game
The Springboks have one more Test - against the All
Blacks in Port Elizabeth next Saturday - before launching their Rugby World
Cup title defence against Wales in Wellington next month.
Africa fielded a near full strength team boasting a world-record 850
caps and were desperate to avenge a humiliating 39-20 loss in Sydney
last month with a virtual 'B' team.
The first scoring chance in
cool, windy conditions fell to the Springboks after three minutes when
Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom committed a dangerous tackle and
France-based fullback Francois Steyn made no mistake from 45 metres.
hit back and looked set to score in the left corner until South Africa
outside centre Jaque Fourie intercepted a James O'Connor pass and the
danger was eventually averted.
Much attention was on Springbok
flyhalf Butch James, making his first start in the green and gold
jersey for three years after a spell playing for Bath in England, and he
calmly slotted his first penalty kick between the posts on 16 minutes
after the visitors infringed at a scrum.
But his second penalty
shot at goal four minutes later drifted wide of the right post after the
ball fell over and the 32-year-old seemed anxious as he went through
his routine a second time.
Bok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez was
impressive on his return after a 21-month injury-induced absence and
when Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper failed to grasp a kick ahead, Fourie
touched down only for the TMO to disallow the try for a knock-on.
were few in a close first half fought predominantly between the
22-metre lines and James scuffed a drop kick attempt, O'Connor hooked
his first penalty shot and Steyn was short with an ambitious drop goal
Australia had a great opening 10 minutes into the second
half that yielded an O'Connor penalty and a Pat McCabe try for an 8-6
advantage that stunned the home supporters.
O'Connor planted his
penalty kick between the posts from close range and almost in front of
the posts and he also featured in the slick handling that ended with
inside centre McCabe having time and space to dot down near the corner
South Africa were back in front by the hour mark thanks to a
close-range penalty kick from James only for Australia to edge ahead
again at 11-9 on 66 minutes as O'Connor kicked his second penalty.
mood of the crowd matched the dark rain-bearing clouds and another
successful O'Connor penalty six minutes from full-time after a superb
Wallabies scrum forced South Africa into conceding a penalty stretched
the lead to five points.
15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP
Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10
Butch James, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Danie Rossouw, 6
Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du
Plessis, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Beast Mtawarira
Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Jean
Deysel, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Morne Steyn, 22 Gio Aplon
Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe,
11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7
David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (captain), 5 James Horwill, 4 Nathan Sharpe,
3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu.
16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Salesi Maafu, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Ben McCalman,
20 Radike Samo, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Anthony Faingaa