Durban – South Africa’s improved performance in the Tri-Nations was still not enough to secure a win against Australia on Saturday – they succumbed to the Wallabies 14-9.
The Boks line up boasted a world-record of 850 caps at the Mr Price Kings Park Stadium.
The Boks started the game on a promising note; their first points on the board came just after three minutes, courtesy of Francois Steyn. The Wallabies were punished for skipper Rocky Elsom’s dangerous tackle.
Butch James was responsible for South Africa’s other two penalties. He took his first penalty kick in the 16th minute after the visitors infringed at a scrum. James’s second penalty came just before the hour mark.
The Boks lost out on more points in the first half after James missed a relatively easy penalty attempt. Fourie du Preez returned to action after a long absence due to injury to touch down for South Africa but his try was eventually disallowed.
South Africa took the lead in the first half but was unable to keep the momentum going when James O’Connor scored early in the second half.
The only try in the match was scored by Pat McCabe for the Wallabies in the 48th minute of the rainy and windy encounter.
O’Connor’s two other penalties helped seal the deal for the Australians, who are now joint leaders in the Tri-Nations.
Reports yesterday suggested that captain John Smit‘s World Cup chances are in doubt after injuring his arm, but more information is expected after injury assessments are done on the Boks. (See: Smit Does Not Have Torn Elbow Ligaments for an update)
Meanwhile, Boks coach Peter de Villiers maintained a positive attitude in his post-match comments.
“Test rugby just shows you, if you don’t take the chances that come your way, you will lose. We wanted a good start, which we got today but we couldn’t convert our chances. If we got one of those three chances in the first half, we would have had a bit of leeway to play with,” De Villiers said.
The coach was pleased that some of his charges, who were out for long periods, got onto the field.
“Some of the guys haven’t had game time for the last six months, some nine months. So to me it was a good start. In that first half, we looked very good. We just have to build on that.”
De Villiers is convinced the Boks will be better next week when they take on the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth.
“For me it was good to see that eagerness in the guys. We created the chances for ourselves, and that is both good and bad. It was good that we could control the game in the first half, but bad that we wasted those chances. When this team plays three or four games as a unit, we will certainly convert those into points.
“You get things that go against you in the game, and that you can’t control. We will bounce back from today. Today we lost the game on the scoreboard only.” – Kemantha Govender, BuaNews
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