Marika Koroibete of the Wallabies is congratulated by team mates. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images),;
Nic White will take the Oscar for the “best male performance” but the Springboks will be as embarrassed by their display in the 25-17 loss to the Wallabies at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
The Springboks started poorly and finished poorly. The middle overs, where they had some momentum were wasted by inadequate offense, miles off the standard you’d expect from World Cup holders.
They capitulated in a fashion not too dissimilar to the 30-17 mental collapse in Brisbane last year when Australia ran in four tries on them.
AS IT HAPPENED | Australia vs South Africa
Things were meant to be different for Jacques Nienaber’s men this year, they had supposedly learnt lessons from their twin defeats at Robina and Suncorp Stadium but nothing showed that they had.
The Springboks went into the game, according to captain Siya Kolisi, with the intention to “try a few things”, deploying the 5-3 bench split instead of detonating the bomb squad 6-2.
But neither game plan was evident at the cricket ground, especially in the first 40 minutes. The running game was scattergun and the kicking brain-less.
The Boks hadn’t touched the ball bar the knock-on from kick-off by Damian Willemse that ceded possession and the Wallabies ran through the phases for loose-forward Fraser McReight to score a try near the sticks.
Marika Koroibete. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
It wasn’t the start the Springboks had wished for. It was the Wallabies who showed the better intent as the visiting defence’s fragilities mirrored Ellis Park against the All Blacks a fortnight ago.
They conceded soft penalties that not only gave Noah Lolesio goal-kicking shots but Australia precious territory that they would have lapped up if you offered it to them pre-game.
After conceding 10 points within 10 minutes, the Boks got into the game and tried to respond but they were sloppy on many fronts: Handre Pollard’s missed goal-kicks, chips to nowhere, knock-ons and penalties.
At least four attacks between the 10th and 20th minute petered out due to lack of killer instinct, notably Lukhanyo Am’s chip that went to Ox Nche, and Eben Etzebeth’s link with Lood de Jager, who broke the line.
The only salvation for South Africa was the utter disintegration of the Australian lineout, a right mess of discoordination and miscommunication.
Bok pressure led to Wallabies winger Tom Wright getting sin-binned 29 minutes in but the Boks laboured to make the man advantage count, losing attacking penalties, letting the hosts disrupt their rhythm.
Even when Makazole Mapimpi looked to exploit that vacant Wright corner, Marika Koroibete flew from the opposite wing to launch into an NFL-style hit into the Sharks finisher.
The half finished with a moment of insanity (or was it inanity?) when Faf de Klerk was yellow-carded for striking his opposite number Nic White in the face in an attempt to disrupt the feed from the base of the scrum.
White fell to the ground like Neymar in strong winds and the referee Paul Williams binned the South African scrumhalf for “getting it wrong” and making contact with an opponent’s face.
The Wallabies went into the second half with a handy 10-3 lead that, on the balance of play, they’d have been thrilled with.
And then they added to their advantage early, again, when Koroibete beat Pollard one-on-one to score their second try seven minutes into the second period.
South Africa, who were still De Klerk down, had contrived to make the Test harder for themselves than it should have been, just like they did in Johannesburg.
After 56 minutes, with the Wallabies 10 metres into the South African half, captain James Slipper slipped a neat inside ball to Lolesio, who broke clean through and fed McReight for his second score of the match.
The Boks were stumped – done in by the Wallabies again in Australia, who prolonged their nine-year unbeaten run at home by at least another week before they meet in Sydney again.
With the Boks well beaten, the Aussies managed the game well and kicked down the middle, forcing their opponents to kick goal-line dropouts that kept them jailed in their half.
While the Wallabies looked slicker, the Boks looked sloppier. Even the two late Kwagga Smith try couldn’t whitewash this faulty display.
Australia – (10) 25
Tries: Fraser McReight (2), Marika Koroibete
Conversions: Noah Lolesio (2)
Penalties: Noah Lolesio (2)
South Africa – (3) 17
Tries: Kwagga Smith (2)
Conversions: Elton Jantjies, Jaden Hendrikse
Penalties: Handre Pollard