Cape Town – Their confidence may well be brittle after three defeats in a row, but if the Springboks need a pick-me-up, studying their 100 percent Pretoria record against Saturday’s opponents the Wallabies seems an advisable route.
South Africa have won all six bilateral Tests at Loftus since 1963, so will seek completion of a “Magnificent Seven” in the Castle Rugby Championship clash this weekend.
Here are reminders of three of the most thumping Bok triumphs over the Aussies at the ground …
1997: South Africa 61 Australia 22
This was probably a bit of a first for an international coach: fired after thrashing a traditional rival by almost 40 points.
But that was the case for Carel du Plessis, given that this spectacular outcome was deemed an afterthought to bigger-picture Bok angst – they had a little unluckily surrendered a home series to the British and Irish Lions, and the Wallaby grilling right at the back end of the former Tri-Nations simply saw SA stave off bottom place in a competition dominated by unbeaten New Zealand (heard that one before?).
So Du Plessis made way for an iconic tenure by Nick Mallett in the hot seat … but not before the solace of seeing his closing charges run rare riot against David Wilson’s dazed Wallabies to avenge an earlier 32-20 defeat in Brisbane.
The up-tempo Boks ran in eight tries to three, their dot-downs coming from Percy Montgomery (2), Mark Andrews, James Dalton, Jannie de Beer, Rassie Erasmus, Pieter Rossouw and debutant flanker Warren Brosnihan.
Pivot De Beer had an individual field day in points-accumulation terms, adding 21 off the kicking tee for a total haul of 26 points to greatly aid the record blow-out.
This game marked further debuts, albeit off the bench, for two forwards destined to remain “one-cap wonders” and probably forgotten by a great many Bok supporters: Bulls loose forward Schutte Bekker and Free State lock Braam Els.
2010: South Africa 44 Australia 31
This was another game against the Wallabies that came during a time of considerable instability for the Springboks, but ended up being a let-the-hair-down-a-little opportunity for the hosts.
It was a topsy-turvy old Test match in a Tri-Nations tournament the South Africans would finish bottom of, and spirits were hardly sky-high at kick-off due to four reverses in succession for Peter de Villiers’s charges.
Soon the Boks were being booed by the disenchanted Loftus faithful, too, as they leaked two tries in the first four minutes (Will Genia, James O’Connor) and were a bit later 21-7 down as well.
But give credit where due: they kept sufficient composure to hit back very earnestly, and eventually ran the Wallabies off their feet in the thin Highveld air after trailing 28-24 at the break.
Bok tries were registered by all of Juan Smith, Gurthro Steenkamp, Pierre Spies, Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen, helping to mark Victor Matfield’s 100th Test at his beloved home ground with a collectively morale-lifting win.
Mind you, only a week later the Wallabies were back in bilateral ascendancy for the season as Kurtley Beale’s long, 79th-minute penalty strike in Bloemfontein earned them a 41-39 nail-biting triumph.
2012: South Africa 31 Australia 8
This was the maiden season of the reconstituted Rugby Championship, also featuring Argentina henceforth.
Although the Boks finished third of the quartet, ahead of only the Pumas, this was probably their best performance as they earned 5-1 try supremacy which said more about their dominance than the final score – only three conversions (by scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar) were managed by SA off the tee on that day.
They had been edged out 26-19 in Perth three weeks earlier, but here there was no doubting Bok urgency and mastery as player-of-the-match Bryan Habana led the charge with a hat-trick of tries. Even the much-maligned, supposedly non-attacking fullback Zane Kirchner got on the sheet.
The Test marked the first start at flyhalf for a then fresh-faced Johan Goosen, widely lauded for his ability to get the line moving crisply; is that perhaps something that should be kept in mind by Allister Coetzee as he weighs up his various options in the currently unsettled berth this weekend?
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