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28 Sep 2013 18:56
Adriaan Strauss of the Springboks scores the opening try against Australia during the Castle Rugby Championship match at Newlands Stadium on Saturday. (Carl Fourie, Gallo Images)
A storming opening half-hour created the platform for South Africa's 28-8 victory over Australia in an ill-tempered Rugby Championship clash at Newlands on Saturday.
However, the extra bonus point South Africa worked hard for eluded them. Tries from hooker Adriaan Strauss, fullback Zane Kirchner and wing Willie le Roux took them tantalisingly close, while flyhalf Morne Steyn added two conversions and three penalties.
The victory took the Springboks to the top of the Rugby Championship table.
They have played one game more than New Zealand, who were playing in Argentina later on Saturday.
Australia's only try came from debutant winger Chris Feauai-Sautia with two minutes remaining.
The match was a physical and an ill-tempered affair between the physical Springboks and an Australia side desperately trying to compete. Four yellow cards were brandished by French referee Jerome Garces.
Flip van der Merwe and Duane Vermeulen were sent to the sin-bin for the hosts, while Michael Hooper and Sitaleki Timani spent time on the sidelines for the visitors.
South Africa's opening try came from some positive play inside the first 15 minutes as, with the score at 3-3, Steyn turned down a kickable penalty and opted instead to kick for the corner.
The Boks won the resultant line-out and drove close to the line, with Strauss eventually barging over from close range.
They were in for a try two minutes later, this one completely different in its construction as the home side exposed the Wallabies backline defence out wide. After running the ball from just outside their own 22, Jean de Villiers skipped past two team mates with his pass, allowing JJ Englebrecht to sprint clear.
With just fullback Israel Folau to beat, his inside ball to Kirchner allowed the Springbok number 15 to coast home.
By the 20-minute mark, Australia had missed nine tackles to South Africa's zero, the rampant home side winning the territory game and bulldozing their way through a shell-shocked Wallabies side spared greater blushes by some poor hands and passing from their hosts.
Australia flank Michael Hooper had been watching green rush past him all game but saw yellow on 27 minutes when he attempted a tackle on Bok lock Eben Etzebeth, lifting him into the air but making no attempt to bring him down safely.
Still the Boks continued to waste good scoring opportunities but they had Australia pinned back in their own half.
An unnecessary use of the elbow from South Africa lock Van der Merwe as he attempted a tackle just before the break led to him receiving a deserved yellow card and he would have had few complaints if it had been red.
It was a poor piece of play from the Bulls forward with his team so dominant and the resultant penalty allowed Australia a first visit into the Bok 22 as the siren sounded for halftime.
At halftime South Africa were in total command, leading 23-3, but Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie kept his players on the pitch and gave them a very public dressing down.
Van der Merwe returned from his yellow card 10 minutes into the second half and still Australia had not threatened the Springbok line and, when they did, they conceded a scrum for a knock-on.
It was a better second-half showing from the visitors and when they finally managed to create some pressure in the final 15 minutes, they forced a second yellow card out of South Africa as Vermeulen was adjudged to have deliberately knocked the ball down as he went for an interception.
South Africa's bonus-point hopes were reignited late on when le Roux crossed in the corner with nine minutes remaining.
There was a fourth yellow card for Timani shortly afterwards as he was adjudged to have deliberately knocked the ball down, before teenage debutant Feauai-Sautia made it a day to remember as he collected a long cross-field kick from Quade Cooper to dot down. – Reuters
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