Jhb, Gau South Africa (PressExposure) July 11, 2007 -- A match that was built up by the Australian media, the Wallabies coaching staff and the players themselves - they made it seem as if the "B" team the Springboks had sent over would be a walk-over for the Wallabies. Add on top of that the emotion being felt all over Australian rugby circles with this match being the last home game for both George Gregan and Stephen Larkham.
Not so screamed the Springboks, at least for the first 16 minutes, after which the under-strength South African team were actually leading 17-0 after 2 quick trys. The Wallabies proving their worth did come back and take the win however.
Within 5 minutes of the match starting South Africa had been awarded a penalty, Derick Hougaard stepped up to try get SA into the lead but his kick for posts missed, this was a sign of things to come for Hougaard as this Tri Nations match turned out not being exactly his best performance in the Springbok jersey by a long shot. The Springboks did open the scoring shortly afterwards though, on just over 5 minutes the Boks were attacking in the Wallabies 22 when Gary Botha darted the "wrong" side from a ruck ball while the Australians were organising their defence towards the other side about 5 metres from their line. This set up a couple openings in front of Wikus van Heerden who had an easy run in to score the South African's opening try.The next score caem almost straight after the re-start with the Australians able to re-gather the ball from the kick off and passing it down the backline, a bit of a loose pass ended their hopes of hitting back at the Springboks straight away. Instead of the Wallabies going on to score from their attacking move Breyton Paulse intercepted the pass and ran over 50 metres untouched to score the second Springbok try, with the conversion alos going over the South African rugby team were leading the Australians 14 - 0 with just about 9 minutes of the mathc played!
On 11 minutes the Wallabies must really have thought this was not their day as they chose to kick for touch from a penalty instead of going for the shot at goal and the ball didn't find touch. A minute later the Wallabies came very close to giving away another intercept try to Paulse again, fortunately for the Wallabies he wasn't able to hold on to the ball. Ruaan Pienaar attempted a drop-kick goal which was woefully mis-hit and actually ended up being a grubber...
By this point the match it was being made blatantly clear that the Springboks strategy was going to be launching the ball into the air whenever possible, Pienaar did just that with a well-weighted box kick which Mark Gerrard failed to gather cleanly and gave possession back the men in Green. This led to the Springboks being awarded a penalty on 14 minutes as Pienaar passed the ball out from the ruck and hit a "lazy" returning defender. Derick Hougaard split the posts and the Springboks now had a lead of 17 points to nil. On around 16 minutes it seemed Johan Ackermann was in a boxing ring and not on a rugby field. The big South African lock caught an elbow from one of the Wallabies and for a few seconds Ackerman wobbled uncertainly on his feet looking decidedly dazed and confused. A mere second or two later the Springboks were awarded another penalty which Hougaard missed.
Up to this point in the match it was seemingly clear that there was plenty of depth in South African rugby with the visitors leading at Telstra Stadium in Sydney by 17 - 0, the uproar over the South Africans sending a "B" team to the Tasmin seemed unfounded. Ruaan Pienaar was still putting in clever box kicks to keep the Aussies on the back foot. Johan Ackermann committed a foul, high-tackle, giving the Wallabies a penalty with a relatively easy shot at the posts but they chose instead to go for the touch line and setup a chance for a 7-pointer. From the resultant line-out the Australian rugby team scored an all too easy try. The ball was passed from the right hand side of the field, deep in South Africa's 22, and with a simple pop-pass to the inside in the centre of the field to Mark Gerrard the Springbok's defence was cut wide open and Gerrard had an easy glide-in to the tryline, with the successful conversion pushing the score to 7-17.
Jake White clearly has not got to grips with the srcumming of his national South African team, this was clear throughout this match and highlighted by the Wallabies being able to wheel a scrum on the South African put-in and turn the possession over. On 28 minutes the Wallabies again chose to go for touch from a penalty instead of going for the "easier" shot at goal. Shortly after Johan Ackermann was subbed as he was clearly suffering fromk concussion from the earlier blow he had received. JP Pietersen was pretty much out of the game up to this point and didn't help his cause for a place in the Springbok World Cup squad when on 30 minutes instead of securing possession while South Africa was trying to attack from within their own 22 he tried to pass the ball which resulted in a knock-on. At this point Australia were clearly the stronger team scithing through gaps in the South African defence all to easily. From one of these line-breaks the Wallabies were unlucky not to score as they knocked the ball on a few metres from the South African try line. On 35 minutes Australia were awarded another penalty and finally kicked for posts closing in on the South African lead with the half time score standing on 10-17.
The Wallabies carried on pressing home their advantage and scored just after half-time to level the scores on 17 all. South Africa's tactic of kicking to keep the Aussies on the back foot was falling to pieces from the beginning of the 2nd half with the ball not getting into the right places, essentially "nothing-kicks". The SA defence finally was able to stand its ground and show some promising signs when they turned over an attacking move by the Wallabies, this was short-lived though as Australia were awarded yet another penalty and scored the 3 points taking the lead for the first time in the match on 51 minutes. Shortly afterward the referee saw a transgression by Gary Botha as a professional foul and yellow-carded him. While Botha was serving his 10 minute suspension the Wallabies were able to score a try on 55 minutes from a line-out ball which ended up being swung wide to the wing and Mark Gerrard kicked the ball back in field for Matt Giteau to collect and fall over the try line putting the Wallabies firmly in the lead by 25 points to 17. Australia were awarded a strange penalty on 57 minutes the referee taking the viewpoint that the Springboks were wasting time as they were trying to decide on how to go about their own line-out throw.
Bob Skinstad was substituted on 63 minutes with his ribs having been fractured. On 65 minutes George Smith somehow escaped being yellow-carded for going into a tackle high as well as with a stiff arm, on 67 minutes as South Africa were trying to maul the ball up into the Aussie 22 when the Wallabies were adjudged to have collapsed the maul. Unfortunately for the Boks Derick Hougaard missed the penalty kick and the scorers weren't troubled. A very promising Springbok maul came to a rather disappointing end just 5 metres from the Wallabies line with the Du Plessis brothers running into each other. George Gregan, in his own unique yet usual fashion, seemed to convince the touch judge that a punch had been thrown in a collapsed scrum, the result being Johan Muller being shown yellow and off for the rest of the match with only 5 minutes remaining.
South Africa did put on a last gasp effort with the full time hooter already having sounded the best they could have done was bring more respect to the scoreline but they did still try to run the ball from their own try line but alas, it was not to be as the ball was lost forward in a tackle on the Australian's 22 metre line. Final score: 25-17 to the Wallabies, a close enough match to have left some Australians embarrased after their very loud moaning about the under-strenght side sent to do battle by the South African coach and selectors.