Wallabies fight back to beat Boks
Published 08/09/2012 | 15:32
Australia avoided a third successive defeat in the Rugby Championship after claiming a 26-19 comeback win over South Africa in Perth.
The Wallabies, who suffered back-to-back losses to New Zealand in their opening two matches, failed to penetrate the South African defence in the first half and trailed 13-6 at the interval.
However, they crossed twice in the second period to secure the victory and move to within three points of the previously-undefeated Springboks, who had claimed a win and a draw against Argentina in their previous two outings.
Wallabies reserve Scott Higginbotham replaced Radike Samo and had an immediate impact when he broke though the South African line and scored alongside the uprights in the 56th minute. Prop Ben Alexander then ploughed into the corner in the 69th minute to score what would prove to be the decisive try.
Berrick Barnes contributed the rest of Australia's points as he finished with a 100% record with the boot, while Morne Steyn and Francois Steyn combined for 14 of South Africa's 19 points, with the visitors' sole try coming from Bryan Habana.
South Africa had shown their hand when Morne Steyn missed a drop goal attempt with their first possession. He added their first points of the night shortly after Sitaleki Timani was penalised for not releasing the ball.
Australia wasted much of their first-half possession and territory with what looked like a plan to deliver chip kicks in behind the Springboks defence. It allowed South Africa to take a seven-point lead into half-time after Habana crossed for the opening try of the match in the 20th minute.
Habana looked certain to score when he found space on the right only for the Wallabies to hold up the Springboks on the line. The defence finally gave way on the third phase, though, as Habana dived over the line for a try that was converted by Morne Steyn.
South Africa front rower Tendai Mtawarira was sin-binned in the 34th minute for a body check on Kurtley Beale but the visitors were able to hold out until half-time without conceding, with Australia's only first-half points coming from Barnes penalties in the 18th and 29th minutes.
However, the Wallabies got back on level terms through Higginbotham's converted try before Alexander helped seal the victory 13 minutes later. Australia, meanwhile, will be hoping for good news about their captain Will Genia who injured his knee in the win and was on crutches after the match.