The Springboks scored three late tries to claim a 28-10 bonus-point win against the Wallabies at Newlands on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Australia defended superbly for 70 minutes of this match, but eventually the number of tackles they had to make (288 in total) took its toll.
The Boks were unstoppable in the final stages, thanks mainly to the influence of their substitutes.
Schalk Burger almost single-handledy changed the momentum of the match, making 17 ball carries in 25 minutes, many of them which committed two or three defenders, while Pat Lambie showed great composure at flyhalf.
It was Lambie whose drop goal put the Boks ahead 11-10 after a 28-phase attack, and that was followed by a crucial Jean de Villiers try.
Jan Serfontein burst through the Wallabies defence and found Cornal Hendricks, who stepped past Israel Folau. While the Boks conceded a turnover, they got the ball back almost immediately, with Bismarck du Plessis, another replacement who made his presence felt, putting De Villiers over in the right corner.
Lambie missed the touchline conversion, but scored a try with two minutes left to put the result beyond doubt.
But the Boks weren't finished yet, with Cobus Reinach, having just come off the bench to make his Test debut, breaking into the Wallabies 22. The ball then went wide to De Villiers, who scored the bonus-point try. It was a magical moment for the Bok captain, playing in what could be his last Test at Newlands.
South Africa finished the match strongly, thanks to their bench, and also started it well when Duane Vermeulen bounced off Matt Toomua and the team then took the ball through 18 phases. While the rain had stopped earlier in the morning, the conditions were clearly still wet underfoot with the Bok backs slipping on a couple of occasions.
Bernard Foley missed his first kick at goal, before Willie le Roux almost created a try at the other end, with his grubber not bouncing up for Hendricks.
The Boks did get on the board soon after when Marcell Coetzee scored from an excellent lineout driving maul, but the rest of the half would prove to be frustrating for them.
Only a desperate cover tackle by Francois Hougaard on Joe Tomane prevented the Wallabies from scoring off a turnover ball on the Bok 10m.
Foley then kicked his first penalty and from the restart, Tevita Kuridrani, who had a massive game, bounced off Bryan Habana, drew two defenders and put Adam Ashley-Cooper away. The winger was able to score in the corner despite being high-tackled by Hougaard, who was fortunate not to be yellow-carded, and Foley nailed the conversion. A dazed Habana left the field, and while he did return briefly, JP Pietersen soon become a permanent replacement.
The Boks turned down a certain three points just before the break, when De Villiers decided to kick for the corner. The 5m lineout was won, but the ball wasn't controlled at the back and the opportunity was lost. The Boks then took the ball through 17 phases before knocking on.
Handré Pollard kicked a penalty early in the second half, but then had a clearance kick charged down by Michael Hooper. Foley was stopped just short of the line, but the Wallabies were denied a 5m scrum when referee Nigel Owens saw on the big screen that Pollard had been held back by Hooper.
Oupa Mohoje had impressed during his first start for the Boks – making four carries and 13 tackles – but he was substituted for Burger in the 55th minute as Heyneke Meyer turned to his bench. Du Plessis replaced Adriaan Strauss soon after with Lambie coming on for Pollard.
Lambie missed a simple penalty attempt, but put the Boks ahead with a drop goal from straight in front.
That was then followed by three tries that had the 45,000 crowd on its feet and the Wallabies on their knees.
Springboks – Tries: Marcell Coetzee, Jean de Villiers (2), Pat Lambie. Conversion: Pat Lambie. Penalty: Handré Pollard. Drop goal: Pat Lambie.
Wallabies – Try: Adam Ashley-Cooper. Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalty: Foley.
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen.
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 James Hanson 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nic White, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Rob Horne.
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images