Sun, Jul 16, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Aussies humiliate Springboks by 49-0

THRASHED Australia adapted to the slippery conditions much better than South Africa and cruised to victory with six unanswered tries as they set a Tri-Nations record

AFP , BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

South Africa's Victor Matfield, left, and Australia's Nathan Sharpe contest a line-out during the Tri-Nations clash at Lang Park in Brisbane yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Australian thrashed a hapless South Africa 49-0 yesterday to record their biggest win over the Springboks and the largest winning margin in the history of the Tri-Nations tournament.

Australia made a mockery of predictions it would struggle against South Africa's monster pack to run in six tries and leave South Africa scoreless.

It was the second-worst loss in South African rugby union history, eclipsed only by a 53-3 capitulation to England in 2002.

Inspired by flyhalf Stephen Larkham and center Matt Giteau, the Wallabies completely dominated the match and helped erase memories of last week's 32-12 loss to New Zealand.

Errors

Handling errors from both sides marred the early exchanges after heavy rain before kick-off at Lang Park. But it was the Wallabies who successfully adapted to the conditions.

Larkham sprang a surprise on the Springboks when he opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a drop goal from 38m, his first at Test level since potting one to win the World Cup semi-final against South Africa in 1999.

The Australian pack then took the game to South Africa's huge forwards, driving their more-fancied opponents back with a rolling maul for hooker Jeremy Paul to score the opening try in the 16th minute.

Center Stirling Mortlock, who had missed an earlier penalty attempt after Springbok halfback Ricky Januarie appeared to rake his hand across his face, converted to take the score to 10-0.

Australian pressure forced a knock-on from fullback Percy Montgomery five minutes later and Mortlock slotted the penalty to take the Wallabies' tally to 13-0.

A piece of Larkham magic then poured on the agony for South Africa in the 25th minute, as the veteran took off on a jinking run that left two Springboks defenders flat footed.

As he went down in the tackle, the 32-year-old unloaded the ball to captain George Gregan, whose quick pass sent prop Greg Holmes over for his second try in eight Tests.

South Africa lock Victor Matfield was sinbinned in the 30th minute for a professional foul as Australia again threatened the Springboks' line, conceding a penalty and leaving his side a man short when the Wallabies were dominating possession.

Matt Giteau exploited the resulting holes in South Africa's defense in the 37th minute when he skipped around Montgomery for a try in his first Test since returning from injury.

Ecstatic crowd

Mortlock's conversion brought the score to 30-0 at half-time before an ecstatic crowd of 45,978.

There was no relief for the Springboks after the break, with desperate tackling from half-time replacement Fourie du Preez saving three Australian tries.

But his Herculean efforts were not enough to stop Chris Latham scoring from a Giteau cross-field kick that was neatly picked up by Lote Tuqiri then passed onto the charging Australian fullback.

Former South African Clyde Rathbone came off the reserves bench for Australia to haunt his ex-homeland, playing a part in two more Wallabies' tries as the game turned into a rout.

Rathbone's grubber kick sent Giteau over the try-line in the 66th minute and then he sped down the line to play a major role in Mark Chisholm's 76th minute try.

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