Tri Nations 2010: Australia snatch late win in South Africa
A rousing second-half performance from South Africa was not enough to prevent a 39-41 Tri Nations defeat to Australia in a thrilling encounter in Bloemfontein.
Tries from Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Rocky Elsom, Drew Mitchell and a first Tri Nations effort from Stephen Moore were enough to seal a win for the Wallabies in their last away fixture of the campaign.
Scores from Jaque Fourie, Gurthro Steenkamp and Jean de Villiers -as well as 24 points from Morne Steyn -could not ensure a positive end to what has been a disappointing defence of the Springboks’ 2009 crown.
As with last week, the Wallabies got off to a flyer, opening up an 11-point lead after 20 minutes. Kurtley Beale found himself in the right place at the right time as O’Connor benefitted from an overlap on the wing and popped a short pass to the full-back allowing Beale to cross easily. O’Connor then touched down after good work from Quade Cooper.
Moore then extended his side’s lead when he crossed over his first Tri Nations try on his landmark 50th test.
With the 2009 champions reeling, Elsom capitalised on great work from O’Connor once more and, thanks to a missed tackle from Bryan Habana, he was allowed cross for the score as he extended his side’s lead to 25.
Having been completely outplayed for the first 35 minutes, an individual piece of brilliance from experienced lock Victor Matfield left Fourie with an easy try to give the Boks some hope at the break.
After the break, a reinvigorated Springboks side began to show the fire and passion that was so crucially missing in the first 40.
Experienced prop Steenkamp need the help of the TMO for his try, but there was no doubt surrounding De Villiers’ effort after he ran through the middle and cut inside for an easy score.
Steyn had been deadly accurate with the boot all night and added a penalty to reduce the arrears to a single point before putting his side ahead for the first time with a fourth kick of the night, taking his tally to 18.
Saia Faingaa then compounded the Wallabies’ woes when he was shown a yellow card for a cynical spear tackle, allowing Steyn to extend the Springboks’ lead to five points.
Just as it looked as if the Wallabies were dead and buried, Mitchell ripped through the Springboks’ defence to level the match, leaving O’Connor to add the extras having assumed the kicking responsibilities from the substituted Matt Giteau.
A sixth penalty from Steyn ensured his side regained the lead, capping off a superb individual performance from the fly half.
It was all to be in vain however, as Beale slotted a penalty from in excess of 55 metres with the clock in the red to seal a two-point victory and secure The Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate.