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South Africa’s Springboks held on to beat Australia’s Wallabies 18-10 and end a three match losing streak in the Rugby Championship at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Morne Steyn kicked all of South Africa’s points while Scott Sio scored the only try in the opening half and the home side led 12-10 at half time.
The only points in the second half came from a penalty by Steyn in the 75th minute and then in the final minute a second drop goal.
Australia dominated territory and possession in the second half but failed to score a point while South Africa relied on their defence and rarely looked like they would cross the line.
South Africa under Allister Coetzee had lost to Argentina, Australia and New Zealand in their last three matches but were relieved to win ugly and end the losing streak.
Apart from Steyn’s telling contribution, there were vastly improved individual performances from his teammates who helped to absorb Australia’s pressure for long passages in the game.
Flanker Francois Louw, helped by hooker Adriaan Strauss won the early breakdown battle when they secured a turnover as the Wallabies looked to take play into the Springbok 22m area after they showed clever variations on attack.
This early clinical steal helped to provide the Boks with much-needed boost and it helped to set the tone for this phase of play to the extent that they managed to shade their opponents by the time first-half play came to an end.
The presence of Steyn at flyhalf and Patrick Lambie at fullback seemed to induce a measure of composure after the Wallabies produced a spirited start which forced the Boks to settle for a defensive role in the opening minutes.
Steyn snapped over a 4th-minute drop goal and Wallaby sharpshooter Bernard Foley banged over a penalty moments later for a 3-all scoreline after seven minutes.
The Wallabies onslaught on the Springbok tryline came good in the 13th minute after several earlier attempts were thwarted at close quarters and prop Scott Sio made the all-important touchdown. Inside centre Foley struck the conversion sweetly to give the Wallabies a 10-3 lead.
The Springboks responded with intensity on a wave of attacks into Wallaby territory but they were never able to breach the defence. Instead, the pressure forced the Wallabies to make mistakes which Steyn punished with three penalties which allowed the Springboks to sneak ahead 12-10 by the time referee Wayne Barnes of England sounded the halftime whistle.
One of the penalties was for obstruction by fullback Israel Folau who obstructed rightwing Bryan Habana as he set off on a kick and chase. Folau was sin-binned for his indiscretion five minutes ahead of the break.
Substitute centre Lionel Mapoe came on for Jesse Kriel after he suffered a hamstring injury in pre-halftime play.
When second-half play resumed the Wallabies enjoyed a decided territorial and possession advantage in the opening 12 minutes but failed to exploit their good fortunes. They spurned two opportunities to regain the lead when winger Reece Hodge missed two goalable penalty attempts from 45m out to add to his near miss in the first half from a massive 65m attempt.
Just around the hour mark, the Springboks managed to shake off the Wallabies vice-like grip on the game but once they transferred play into the opposition half they sent back with a penetrative counter-attack.
The Springboks won two penalties for second-half scrum infringements and chose to kick for touch instead but nothing came from their line-out ball as the Wallaby defence stood firm.
In the 75th minute, Francois Hougaard who was moved from leftwing to scrumhalf after Rudy Paige was retired early with a concussion, secured a turn-over which earned the Springboks a penalty 35 metres out. Steyn banged it over for a 15-10 lead with five minutes playing time left.
Four minutes later, Steyn placed the result beyond all doubt with a well-taken drop goal after the Springboks surprised by running a penalty from the halfway line.
Next week South Africa’s Springboks host New Zealand’s All Blacks in Durban while Australia’s Wallabies fly to London England where they will play Argentina at Twickenham.
Final Score South Africa 18 (12) Australia 10 (10)
Pen – M.Steyn 4
Drop -M.Steyn 2
Tries – S.Sio
Pen – B.Foley
Con – B.Foley
Cards – I.Folau (yellow)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Ref 1:Johnny Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Ref 2:George Clancy (Ireland)
TMO : Jim Yuille (Scotland)
15. Pat Lambie , 14. Bryan Habana, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Juan de Jongh , 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Rudy Paige, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Oupa Mohoje , 6. Francois Louw, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Eben Etzebeth , 3. Vincent Koch, 2. Adriaan Strauss (c), 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Steven Kitshoff , 18. Julian Redelinghuys , 19. Lood de Jager , 20. Willem Alberts , 21. Jaco Kriel , 22. Lionel Mapoe, 23. Willie le Roux
1. Scott Sio,2. Stephen Moore (c) ,3. Sekope Kepu ,4. Rob Simmons,5. Adam Coleman ,6. Dean Mumm ,7. Michael Hooper,8. Sean McMahon ,9. Will Genia ,10. Quade Cooper,11. Reece Hodge,12. Bernard Foley ,13. Samu Kerevi ,14. Dane Haylett-Petty ,15. Israel Folau ,
Replacements :16. James Hanson , 17. James Slipper , 18. Tom Robertson , 19. Kane Douglas, 20. Scott Fardy , 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Tevita Kuridrani , 23. Sefanaia Naivalu*
*denotes uncapped player
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