The Wallabies yesterday swept to back-to-back wins against South Africa with a convincing 30-17 win in Brisbane.
Center Len Ikitau and wing Marika Koroibete scored two tries apiece in the bonus-point win as the Wallabies regained the Nelson Mandela Plate.
The victory came a week after the Wallabies stunned the Springboks 28-26 on the Gold Coast when Quade Cooper kicked a penalty after the fulltime siren.
However, there was no need for any last-minute heroics six days later after Koroibete’s second try 10 minutes from time gave the Wallabies a crucial 13-point lead that the Springboks never threatened.
Australia coach Dave Rennie said that yesterday’s performance had pleased him more than last week’s game.
“We wanted to back up last week’s performance with another strong performance and I thought we backed up well,” Rennie said. “We defended well — I thought we were clinical. Against New Zealand we created lots of opportunities, but turned the ball over and got punished. Tonight we were good enough to take those opportunities.”
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber offered no excuses and said it was the Springboks’ worst performance since a 32-19 loss against Argentina in 2018.
“It was not a performance that was worthy enough for a Springbok jersey,” he said. “We were truly beaten. In every department we got hands down beaten — defense, kicking game, attack. We just made too many errors.”
South Africa had promised to come back strongly after last week’s loss, but they were on the back foot from the beginning when scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was shown a yellow card in the 12th minute for an infringement in front of the posts.
Instead of opting for an easy penalty, the Wallabies kicked for the corner and the gamble paid off when they won quick line-out ball and outside center Ikitau broke through the tackle of Handre Pollard to crash over.
Pollard brought the score back to 5-3 with a 40m penalty, but Ikitau put the home side further ahead when he was on the end of some slick passing from fullback Tom Banks and winger Koroibete to dive over in the corner.
Cooper, who missed the relatively easy conversion attempt for Ikitau’s first try, converted from the sideline to make it 12-3.
The Wallabies’ discipline problems kept giving Pollard penalty chances and he closed the gap to 15-12 with two three-pointers just before the break.
To add to the Wallabies’ woes, flanker Lachie Swinton was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on ’Boks No. 8 Duane Vermeulen in the closing minutes of the first half.
The Springboks took advantage of the extra man and hit the front for the first time almost from the restart when De Klerk put a perfectly weighted kick behind the Australia line for center Lukhanyo Am, who touched down out wide.
Pollard missed the conversion, but South Africa were in front 17-15.
Cooper put the Wallabies back in the lead 10 minutes later with his second penalty before Koroibete steamed onto a brilliant no-look pass from Wallaby tighthead prop Taniela Tupou to race 22m and score beside the posts.
Cooper’s conversion gave the Wallabies a 25-17 lead with 16 minutes remaining. The Wallabies kept the ball alive and were rewarded for some sparkling attacking play when Koroibete dived over in the corner following a move that started 30m from their own try line.
Cooper missed the conversion, but the Wallabies were ahead 30-17 at the 70-minute mark, a lead they never looked like surrendering.
In the second match at Suncorp Stadium, New Zealand remained perfect in the competition with their fourth bonus-point win, a 36-13 win over Argentina.
With each team having two games to play, meaning each can add a maximum 10 competition points, New Zealand are on 20, South Africa 10, Australia 9 points and Argentina have none.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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