Our report card as Springboks hold out Wallabies to keep Rugby Championship hopes alive

Alex Broun 22:40 29/09/2018
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Siya Kolisi breaks against the Wallabies

South Africa have kept alive their faint chances of a first Rugby Championship title with a hard fought 23-12 victory at Nelson Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

Here’s our report card from the match.

30-Second Report

The Wallabies came into the test desperate to claim just the second win of this Rugby Championship while the Springboks were just as keen to maintain their winning form after the historic 34-32 victory over the All Blacks in Wellington a fortnight ago.

The Boks jumped out to a 14-0 lead after 21 minutes through tries from Aphiwe Dyantyi and Faf de Klerk but the Wallabies hit back with tries from Reece Hodge and Will Genia.

South Africa were 20-12 up at the break, thanks to two penalties from Handre Pollard, and his lone penalty in the 46th minute ended up being the only score in a second half characterised by desperate defence.

The Good

Boks defence: Once again the Boks defence won them the test, just as it did in Wellington a fortnight ago. South Africa had to make 146 tackles, almost double Australia’s 77, and although they missed 25 it was enough to hold the Wallabies out in the second half. The Boks had the top seven tacklers in the match with Pieter Steph du Toit leading on 17.

Wallabies stars: Lots of great individual performances from Australia – full-back Dane Haylett-Petty was superb under the high ball, David Pocock as always was a tower of strength at the breakdown winning some important turn overs and Michael Hooper was electric with ball in hand, making 98 run metres.

The Bad

South Africa need to be more clinical: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will be disappointed the home team did not put this contest out of sight when they had the chance. The Boks made seven clean breaks but were only able to finish two of them off with tries. They also made seven handling errors – mistakes they must eliminate if they are do the double on the All Blacks next weekend.

Australian errors: The Wallabies had all the possession (57-43 percent) and territory (65-35) but they were cruelled by too many mistakes. Australia made 12 handling errors in total and were unable to convert the many chances they had on offer. They spent the bulk of the second half in the Boks 22 but went pointless.

KEY MOMENTS

23secs: Staggering moment of stupidity from Kurtley Beale. On his own line he goes for a long pass across to Michael Hooper but its easily picked off from Aphiwe Dyantyi who strolls over. Handre Pollard converts and Springboks lead 7-0 within the first minute.

4mins: A regulation penalty that usually Matt Toomua would slot easily but perhaps overcome by nerves he puts it out to the left.

6mins: Boks have a kickable penalty but go for touch. However Adam Coleman leaps superbly and takes it from Eben Etzebeth’s finger tips.

11mins: A good chance outwide for the Dyantyi but this time he can’t gather it. It comes back for a penalty and the Boks once more set up the rolling maul. But again the Wallabies keep them out.

16mins: Boks run it from their own line with a long pass from Willie Le Roux putting Pollard away. The fly-half finds Siya Kolisi on the inside, but the Bok captain does not see Marika Koroibete coming and he is run down.

20mins: Poor defence from the Wallabies. Pollard runs at the line and goes straight through Folau Fainga’a and then Will Genia. He finds Faf de Klerk in support and the No9 goes over under the posts. Pollard converts and Springboks lead 14-0.

25mins: Great attacking play from the Wallabies. First Dane Haylett-Petty is through on the left but is brought down superbly by Cheslin Kolbe. The Wallabies stay composed and Genia sends a long pass to Hodge on the right wing who is too strong for Dyantyi. Toomua misses the conversion and Wallabies trail 14-5.

28mins: Superb from the Wallabies. Haylett-Petty strongly returns a kick, then offloads to Hodge. From the ruck Genia feeds Koroibete who surprisingly has too much pace for Kolbe on the outside and finds Genia with the return inside pass. Toomua converts. Wallabies trail 14-12.

33mins: Boks pounding the Wallabies line but the Men of Gold hang on. Pollard settles for a penalty. Springboks lead 17-12.

36mins: Boks offside from a high kick and Hodge lines up a long range shot from 48 metres but it’s well wide.

40mins: Kolisi with a great counter-ruck which leads to a Bok penalty. Pollard lands it and Springboks lead 20-12 at half time.

45mins: David Pocock is penalised for a trailing arm on Dyantyi and Pollard slots in from 40 metres. The Springboks lead 23-12.

47mins: Great play from the Boks down the left touchline with neat interchange from Dyantyi and Kolisi, but Pieter Steph du Toit knocks on with the line gaping.

54-64mins: The Wallabies are camped in the Boks 22 for 10 minutes. They have a line-out and two scrums five metres out but the Boks hold on. But Dyantyi gives away another penalty and referee Jerome Garces has seen enough and cards the Boks winger. But with a man advantage the Wallabies lose the line out and the Boks clear.

68mins: Brutal contest at the breakdown as the Boks hold out the desperate Wallabies. The ball comes wide to Cheslin Kolbe who makes a break but is tackled illegally by Israel Folau. But from the penalty Pollard kicks the ball touch in goal.

72mins: Scrum penalty to the Wallabies, and Beale makes a half break. But another handling error from Australia.

76mins: Another big play from Kolisi as he tackles Nick Phipps at the base of the ruck and wins a scrum.

78mins: Wallabies throwing everything at the Boks but Pocock is pulled down out wide and then Dyantyi wins a scum with an attempted intercept.

TACTICAL TURNING POINTS

The Boks had a very strong bench and used it to great effect in the second half: forwards Mbongeni Mbonami, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, RG Snyman and Marco van Staden all had a telling impact as the fresh blood helped South Africa hold out the Wallabies in the final 20 minutes.

The Wallabies tried to find the incisive blow to bridge the gap but despite considerable effort they simply did not have the precision or polish to unlock a committed Springbok defence. Their lineout again let them down, losing three at crucial times.

VERDICT

Springboks: B+

The home team put together some impressive attacking plays in the first quarter to put themselves 14 points up and held on for the rest.

Wallabies: C

The Men of Gold are far from the finished article and the issue for coach Michael Cheika is they don’t seem to be getting any closer. Another patchy display from a team not going anywhere.

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