Kurt-Lee Arendse continued his remarkable scoring record by grabbing three tries as the Springboks put Australia to the sword in the 2023 Rugby Championship opener in Pretoria on Saturday.
Despite fielding a team mixed with senior regulars and fringe players, the Springboks romped to a 43-12 opening victory over the shoddy Wallabies, getting a four-try bonus-point in the process at a sold-out Loftus Versfeld.
The Springboks were utterly dominant and seemed to embrace the occasion, playing with far more abandon than would have been expected in their first Test of the year.
Part of that was down to how desperately poor the Wallabies were in the first match of Eddie Jones’ second tenure in charge of the team.
After taking a surprise early lead through Marika Koroibete – fortunate to be on the field after a couple of reckless early tackles – Australia just couldn’t cope with the ferocity of the Bok pack and were trapped in their own territory for most of the game.
The Springboks took full advantage, sending Arendse over three times as the winger took his try-scoring record to 10 in eight Tests.
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Van Staden times his break perfectly from the maul by waiting until the Aussie forwards commit, Mbonambi gives it to the pace in space and Arendse burns down the wing for the try.
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Plenty of those aforementioned fringe players were equally impressive. Manie Libbok was solid off the kicking tee, slotting four of six attempts, and he controlled the game well in his first Test start, building on cameos off the bench last November.
Andre Esterhuizen had arguably his most effective Test in the green and gold and picked up a try assist, while flank Marco van Staden, who came into the Test with question marks after a poor finish to the domestic season, bulldozed his way through Wallaby defenders and gave the visitors a nightmare at the breakdown.
The Boks could count themselves unlucky to have taken just the 12-point lead into the break, but Australia ably assisted the hosts by giving away two penalty tries and two subsequent yellow cards in the second half, with the game all but decided before the 70th minute.
Bouyed by the possibility of seeing the Boks equal their largest-ever home winning margin – 45 set in 2008 – the home crowd cheered to see 50 points, but it was the Wallabies who ended with a breakaway consolation score through debutant flyhalf Carter Gordon.