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Wallabies break Springbok hearts

Australia crept into the World Cup semi-finals with an 11-9 victory after James O'Connor landed a late penalty to send champions South Africa crashing out.

The Springboks had established a 9-8 lead through the boot of Morne Steyn having laid siege to Australia's line for half an hour, only for Victor Matfield to concede a penalty in the 71st minute.

And O'Connor stepped up and nervelessly sent his kick between the uprights as the Wallabies made it six victories in seven matches against their Tri-Nations rivals.

Australia built an early 8-0 lead when captain James Horwill crossed with O'Connor adding a penalty, but after half-time they came under sustained pressure before finally wriggling free.

Bryan Habana was smashed by Radike Samo and in the 36th minute the Springboks were finally off the mark when Steyn landed a penalty.

South African celebrations at a try for Pat Lambie were cut short when referee Bryce Lawrence correctly called Jean de Villiers' scoring pass forward.

Australia rode their luck when Quade Cooper had a clearance charged down by Bismarck du Plessis and in the 61st minute they slipped behind for the first time when Steyn booted a drop goal.

Cooper's problems continued when he sent a chip straight into touch and moments later Lambie steered a drop goal wide. Bodies were strewn across the pitch and the game had lost any structure.

But when Australia finally broke from their half, they won a penalty against Matfield for pulling down at the line-out and O'Connor made no mistake from long range.

A late assault from the South Africans followed, but this was the Wallabies' day.

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