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Rugby | Springboks

Boks © Gallo Images

Aphiwe stars as Boks down Australia



The Springboks scored two first-half tries and put in a monster second-half performance to beat Australia 23-12 in their Castle Lager Rugby Championship match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The win kept their unbeaten record at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium alive and gave Australia their sixth consecutive defeat in as many years in South Africa, leaving the Boks with an outside chance of taking the Rugby Championship should New Zealand slip up in Argentina later in the evening.

It built on the big win in Wellington over the All Blacks and proved it wasn’t a one-off fluke, giving the Boks some much-needed momentum as they head into the biggest week of the year.

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The Boks will look back on this match and know they had to put in some gutsy tackles in the second half and will need a lot more work before they head into the final showdown against the All Blacks at Loftus Versfeld next week.

But for a team that is still growing the win was important. It was built on a mountain of guts and grit and paid for with some excellent work in the first half and a defensive masterpiece in the second.

Winger Aphiwe Dyantyi stood tall on the evening as he put the Boks on the board after 31 seconds with a beautiful intercept try, while the forwards in particular were good in the physical exchanges as they battered the Aussie runners.

But at some stage the guts will need to be replaced with possession and territory and while the team has been exceptional in terms of their rush defence, their ability to control a game will need to improve ahead of next year’s World Cup.

And while they missed a plethora of chances, they created a number of others and that will be satisfying for the coaching staff. Accuracy and composure will be two words that will be bandied about in team meetings as they look to a bigger challenge.

It was Dyantyi’s prowess and quick thinking that gave the Port Elizabeth match the start they were salivating for. With the Wallabies looking to exit by running, he bulleted his way between the centres with perfect timing to snaffle Kurtley Beale’s pass and set the scoreboard back: 30 seconds gone and Boks were 7-0 up.

BRICK WALL

They were all over the Wallabies in the first half and fluffed more than a few chances, but the sustained pressure finally paid off when Handre Pollard beat one and then two defenders, jinking outside and cutting inside to put Faf de Klerk straight down the middle for the Boks’ second try.

And then, like with many of the tests in the Rassie Erasmus era, the soft moments came. The Boks went soft on attack, and De Klerk sent a poor clearance down the throat of Israel Folau in the Bok half.

It set up a pressure attack and the Wallabies capitalised. It took five or six phases, but eventually the Boks were under penalty sanction on their own line and Will Genia saw the space, floating a pass out to Reece Hodge who was covered by Dyantyi, but managed to stretch his lanky frame out to score in the corner.

A minute later another poor clearance kick saw the blindside defence disappear as the Wallabies – and Genia again – found the space he needed to send Marika Koroibete thumping down the sideline to beat Cheslin Kolbe and return the favour for Genia to score.

The Boks were enjoying dominance, but had to settle for the solace of Pollard’s boot as he sent them ahead with two penalties to a Hodge long-distance kick for a halftime 20-12 lead.

The second half was a total reverse of the first and the Wallabies grew in stature. Playing under a desperate coach they put the gear down, and let the pace accelerate and took control of the half.

But that exuberance was met with a brick wall of defence. A wall that refused to budge and while they let Dyantyi get a yellow card for a team offence, it never moved. The Boks refused to let the Wallabies through.

It was a win that wasn’t as dramatic as Wellington, or as emphatic as some in the past. But it was one that showed the character of the side that was sorely needed. It took them to two consecutive wins and some much-needed momentum.

And it will be a sigh of relief that after some lows this season, the Boks have two wins in a row now as they head for their biggest week yet.

SCORERS

South Africa – tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi, Faf de Klerk, Conversion: Handre Pollard (2).

Penalties: Pollard (3)

Australia – tries: Reece Hodge, Will Genia, Conversions: Matt Toomua



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