A late converted try from Rob Horne saw the Wallabies score their first win of the Rugby Championship as they came from behind to beat South Africa 24-23 at Patersons Stadium in Perth.
It went right down to the wire as the Boks, who had led for 38 minutes of the second-half were left to lick their wounds ahead of facing New Zealand.
Horne’s try had to be converted by Bernard Foley however, and he made no mistake late on as the Wallabies bounce back from that Auckland loss.
The Wallabies came out of the blocks with real intent as they immediately reclaimed the kick-off via Folau’s impressive leap, which ultimately led to Matt Toomua drawing a defender in a resulting play to send over the full-back for the opening try. Recalled fly-half Foley missed the conversion.
South Africa had to wake up and fast and fortunately for them they did as number eight Duane Vermeulen pounced at the breakdown to earn Morne Steyn the chance to land three points. Steyn, in for Handre Pollard, made no mistake as the Boks cut the deficit to two points on six minutes.
More encouragement for Heyneke Meyer came six minutes later when Cornal Hendricks finished off quick hands down the line to push South Africa into the lead. But like Foley earlier, Steyn could not add the extra two as the visitors now had a 5-8 advantage.
Foley levelled matters soon after when centurion Bryan Habana was pinged at the breakdown as the absorbing Test match unfolded with a nip and tuck feel.
South Africa’s physical presence was beginning to tell though and when two further Steyn penalties – the latter coming after good running from Habana – meant that with a Foley shot twelve minutes from the interval, the scoreline was 11-14 to the Boks as the teams went in.
The tight affair continued after the turnaround as Foley’s three points a minute into the half for Willie le Roux’s side entry was followed up by Steyn pushing his men back in front after a Wallaby scrum offence. One sensed the pattern would continue right until the end in Perth.
14-17 would soon become 14-20 at Patersons Stadium on 49 minutes when the Springbok scrum continued to banish the horrible memories of Salta, with Steyn again on target.
For the next ten minutes the visitors were determined to win the territorial battle and they did just that as Folau twice sliced his responses with just five metres gained. Ewen McKenzie would have been wary of the clock ticking down while his team was stuck in their own 22.
Further worries arrived when replacement James Horwill failed to roll away, thus handing Steyn a shot for a third straight three point effort.
Momentum would swing once again just after the hour mark, however, when Habana was shown a yellow card by George Clancy for an adjudged high tackle on Adam Ashley-Cooper. And from that card, the Wallabies would go close to scoring as replacement Pek Cowan thought he had scored only for obstruction being called.
Fortunately for the Wallabies they would soon get the consolation of three points which made it a one-score game once again at 17-23 in Perth.
And with time running out and Habana now back on the field, it would take replacement Kurtley Beale, centre Tevita Kuridrani and that man Folau to combine before Horne did the rest, stepping Steyn to allow Foley the kick for victory.
Man of the match: When he gets the ball things happen. Israel Folau scored one and had a big hand in the match-winner for Horne. Simply too good at times.
Moment of the match: The yellow card for Bryan Habana gave the Wallabies extra momentum but it was their impressive bench that proved the difference, with Kurtley Beale, Scott Higginbotham, Pek Cowan and Matt Hodgson impressing.
Villain of the match: Test match rugby is won on small margins and had Morne Steyn not missed touch late on, the Boks probably would have won this game. He won’t be happy on the flight to New Zealand.
Tries: Folau, Horne
Pen: Foley 4
For South Africa:
Pen: Steyn 6
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Matt Hodgson, 22 Nic White, 23 Kurtley Beale.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (capt), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Damian de Allende.
Venue: Patersons Stadium, Perth
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Assessor: Andrew Cole
- Planet Rugby