Outside the Frame

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World Champs finally turn up as Springboks smash Wallabies

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It was a bittersweet victory for South Africa when they notched up a record win over Australia at Johannesburg on Saturday. While the Springboks finally showed why they are the current World Cup holders, it was a matter of too little too late in the Tri-Nations, with the series now a two-horse race between New Zealand and Australia. But the Springboks, and especially coach Peter de Villiers, will be very happy with their performance at Ellis Park after coming into the game as a team under siege, having only won one game from five in the tournament, which included two losses at home. This second win was not enough to move them from the bottom of the table, but at least it restored some pride to the world champions.

From the kick off it looked to be an exciting game on the highveld, with the Wallabies strongly attacking the line only to be held out by the Bok defense and having to settle for a penalty, posting the first points of the game. But after eight minutes the game just went downhill for the Australians. Conrad Jantjes sent the monstrous Andries Bekker over the line for the first try of the game, and the South Africans just kept on going.

The Springboks managed to overcome the problems that plagued them in their previous Tri-Nation outings this year. They no longer fumbled the ball at crucial times and worked solidly at the breakdown resulting in minimum turnover and long sets of phase ball. A second try to Jongi Nokwe, just five minutes after Bekker crossed the line seemed to come as a shock to the Australians, and suddenly they were the ones under pressure. Indeed, a third and fourth try before halftime, both to Nokwe, had the men in green cheering into the locker room and the men in gold looking a little bit worried. 

There have been bigger turnarounds in rugby history and with an inspirational coach like Robbie Deans having a chat to them in the locker room, the Australians would have been looking to come out in the second half firing. However, any notion of a second half comeback was quickly scuttled after just five minutes as outside centre Adrian Jacobs made an inspiring run for the line and crossed over for the South African’s fifth try of the match. The Springboks could then sense an opportunity to make some kind of amends for the poor display in the series up until then. Keeping the Wallabies on the back foot, they ran in three more tries, including another one from Nokwe, to post the highest winning margin against the Wallabies in Tri-Nations history. And with Nokwe’s four-try haul another record from any player against Australia, it was not a good night for captain Stirling Mortlock and his men. A try from Drew Mitchell in the fifty-sixth minute was a poor consolation for a team who had come into the game very confident of defeating the Springboks at home two weeks in a row. 

The Wallabies will be wondering what happened to cause such a sound defeat. It was not entirely a bad performance by the Australians, it seemed more that they were taken aback by the intensity brought by the Springboks, which they were never able to overcome, instead playing the rest of the game on the back foot and unable to make their way back into the match. There were some simple mistakes by the Aussies and their previously rock-solid defense turned quite soft at the crucial times, with South Africa too often finding the gaps and overlaps. An interesting selection for the match was league convert Timana Tahu slotting in at inside centre for the injured Berrick Barnes, after having played only 23 minutes so far for the Wallabies, all from the bench. Inside centre is a crucial position in defense and much of the Springboks attack came through the midfield. However Tahu cannot be blamed for the massive loss. There were defensive mistakes made across the Wallaby team, including a few memorable ones from captain Stirling Mortlock. 

In the end it was not the game the Wallabies were hoping for in preparing to knock over the All Blacks in two weeks in Brisbane, and win the Tri-Nations. But there is a two week break to go over the mistakes and revitalize the team, and the heavy loss could be a catalyst for a big turn around against New Zealand. It was however the game the Springboks, their coach and indeed their fans were looking for. It may not have saved their Tri-Nations campaign but it did take the pressure off the players and especially the coach de Villiers and showed that the Springboks are still worthy of being the world champions. Now they just have to find some consistency. 


Final Score:

Springboks 53 (Andries Bekker, Jongi Nokwe 4, Adrian Jacobs, Ruan Pienaar, Odwa Ndungane – tries; Butch James – 3 conversions, 1 penalty; Percy Montgomery – 2 conversions)

Wallabies 8 (Drew Mitchell – try; Matt Giteau – penalty)


Written by Dale Weber

Tuesday, 2 September, 2008 at 1:18 am

Posted in Rugby

Tagged with , , ,

One Response

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  1. Bittersweet indeed.

    God damn saffas.

    H Diddy

    Tuesday, 2 September, 2008 at 4:58 pm

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