The Springboks produced a rousing all-round performance to beat the Wallabies 23-12 on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Boks will take heart from this showing. A more accurate display on attack may have given them a more comfortable win and ultimately a bonus point. It’s encouraging to note, however, that the side that won by 11 points has room to improve.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was heaving by the time Siya Kolisi and his charges took to the field. The game never wanted for action or drama, with the Boks doing their best to play at a high tempo on attack and replicate the gladiatorial defensive effort of two weeks ago in New Zealand.
Indeed, it was a superb defensive read that earned the Boks their first try after 40 seconds. The Wallabies were pinned back on their own tryline, and Kurtley Beale exacerbated the situation with a looping pass to the right wing.
Aphiwe Dyantyi read the play superbly and rushed forward to intercept the ball. After less than a minute of play, 41,332 people at the ground were on their feet.
From there, the Boks mixed the ridiculous with the sublime. They dominated the collisions. They had multiple chances to score from a set piece staged deep in Aussie territory. At the crucial moment, however, they dropped the ball or conceded a penalty.
They pushed and persisted, but the Wallabies, thanks in large to men like No 8 David Pocock, who was allowed to run amuck at the breakdown, managed to keep them out.
Then Handré Pollard produced a piece of magic to leave the Wallabies defence confounded and Faf de Klerk with a scoring chance. The flyhalf danced his way through the midfield, and had the presence of mind to look for the supporting player on his shoulder. De Klerk arrived on cue, and accelerated towards the tryline.
The Boks should have put the Wallabies away at that point. Somehow, the visitors managed to hit back, first through Reece Hodge, and then through Will Genia. The Bok defence was caught out on the left wing in the lead-up to Hodge’s score, while De Klerk’s poor box kick allowed the Wallabies to set up Genia’s five-pointer.
Matt Toomua and Hodge missed three kicks at goal between them in the first half. The Boks should have scored more than two tries during this period, given the number of chances they enjoyed deep in Aussie territory. A more accurate goal-kicking performance by the visitors, however, would have added eight more points to their tally.
Fortunately for the hosts, Pollard came with his kicking boots. The flyhalf nailed two penalties before half-time to give the Boks a 20-12 lead at the break.
Pollard was on target again shortly after the break. Earlier in the contest, the Boks turned down kickable penalties in favour of the lineout drive. Following several failed attempts, however, they wisely decided to take the points when they were on offer thereafter.
Pollard’s penalty in the 46th minute changed the complexion of the contest. With the Boks 11 points ahead, the Wallabies were forced to chase the game.
The Boks could have done better to control the contest during this period. The Wallabies enjoyed a great deal of possession and territory, and it was only through some heroic defending, by Dyantyi in particular, that they kept the visitors honest.
The Boks failed to exit, though. In the 64th minute, Dyantyi went from hero to villain when he committed a cynical offence at the breakdown. The wing apologised to the crowd as he went off, as his yellow card robbed the Boks of a full complement for 10 important minutes.
The men in green showed terrific resolve to hold out during the period of disadvantage. And when Dyantyi returned, they did enough to finish the game strongly and secure a big win.
The Boks should be pleased with the result and aspects of the performance. They will go into the next game against the All Blacks in Pretoria with plenty of confidence, and with the knowledge that they could finish this Rugby Championship campaign with a record of four from six for the first time since 2014.
Springboks – Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi, Faf de Klerk. Conversion: Handré Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (3).
Wallabies – Tries: Reece Hodge, Will Genia. Conversion: Matt Toomua.
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Stephen Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.
Wallabies – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Faingaa, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Rob Simmons, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddocks.
Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images