Rugby Championship
Kuridrani try secures Wallabies dramatic win
ESPN Staff
July 18, 2015
Date/Time: Jul 18, 2015, 20:05 local, 10:05 GMT
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Australia 24 - 20 South Africa
Attendance: 37633  Half-time: 7 - 13
Tries: Ashley-Cooper, Hooper, Kuridrani
Cons: Cooper 2, Giteau
Pens: Cooper
Tries: Etzebeth, Kriel
Cons: Pollard 2
Pens: Pollard 2
Australia's Quade Cooper attacks the line, Australia v South Africa, Brisbane, Australia, July 18, 2015
Australia's Quade Cooper attacks the line
© Getty Images
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A last-gasp Tevita Kuridrani try has given the Wallabies a dramatic four-point win over the Springboks and an invaluable dose of confidence ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

The Fijian-born centre touched down under huge pressure and by the barest of margins after the final siren with referee Nigel Owens only given permission to award the try after the Television Match Official had spent several minutes considering all available angles. But the green light was eventually given, handing the Wallabies a win that had looked unlikely for all but the final minutes of the match.

The hosts scored three tries to two but were largely outplayed throughout the match as the Springboks asserted their dominance at the breakdown through powerhouse back-row trio Schalk Burger, Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee. The introduction of replacement David Pocock seemed to even the ledger however, and prove that he and Michael Hooper - who had a fine 80-minute game - can play together. It was also an impressive return to Test rugby for 32-year-old Matt Giteau, the Toulon star slotting in seamlessly at No.12.

Australia 24-20 South Africa (Australia only)

"The boys just stuck at it I suppose, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I was yelling out 'kick for goal' when we got that penalty there at the end," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika told Fox Sports. "But that shows the mentality of the captain and this game, even though not perfect obviously, will give a lot of self-belief to the guys."

A busy opening to the match saw both sides try and move the ball while Springboks No.10 Handre Pollard kicked out on the full from outside his 22, only to see that effort matched a short while later when Israel Folau followed suit. That field position allowed the visitors some early territory from which they were given the first shot at points following a Wallabies infringement; Pollard made his second mistake though as his penalty attempt hit the upright, allowing Adam Ashley-Cooper to clear.

It was then the Wallabies' turn to attack as back-rower Scott Fardy went on a run down the left touchline. The Wallabies were keen to play with plenty of width in the early stages as Quade Cooper and Giteau moved the ball to both sides of the field; the hosts were eventually caught out in midfield though as Bismarck du Plessis pinched a turnover at the breakdown following a Will Skelton run.

A frantic opening quarter continued as a powerful Springboks scrum opened up the blindside for Ruan Pienaar and the scrum-half hit centre Damian de Allende with a wonderful cut-out ball. De Allende was tackled down field but the Springboks shifted back to the other side with Jesse Kriel finding space. The visitors had the Wallabies under heavy pressure on their own line but a knock-on saw the promising raid come to no avail, much to the delight of the home crowd. The Wallabies scrum again came under pressure however, forcing a shaky clearance from Will Genia and when Hooper was penalised for off-side following the ensuing lineout, Pollard kicked the Boks to a 3-0 lead.

Adam Ashley-Cooper scored the game's opening try via a set move © Getty Images

Easily the Wallabies' biggest strike weapon, Israel Folau soon showed his class with a wonderful take and run through the heart of the Springboks' defence. But he was just a little isolated and what should have been a fine launching pad for the Wallabies again broke down at the tackle. A bigger issue was the scrum however and another huge Springboks shove forced referee Nigel Owens' hand; Pollard kicking the penalty from 40 metres out to extend the lead to 6-0 after 26 minutes.

The Wallabies had threatened to open the Boks up on a couple of occasions but their poor breakdown work saw the promising attacks come to nothing. So it was no surprise then when they worked a set-piece play with success on 33 minutes; a short lineout drive set South Africa's defence on the back foot and when Quade Cooper picked up Ashley-Cooper on the inside, the winger brushed off one tackle to break the line before stretching out to plant the ball down for the game's first try. Cooper added the extras to give the hosts the lead for the first time at 7-6.

It didn't last. Playing under advantage on the Wallabies' 22 just a few minutes later, Pollard went to the air with winger Bryan Habana tapping the ball down to full-back Willie le Roux; the Cheetahs flyer producing a round-the-corner offload for the unlikely figure of lock Eben Etzebeth to cross in the corner. Pollard shaded the inside of the right upright from the sideline with the conversion to send the Springboks into half-time up 13-7, though a ridiculous Cooper flick-pass after the siren almost saw the Wallabies fall further behind.

The hosts came out of the sheds without Will Genia, the half-back reportedly succumbing to a knee injury, and the news only got worse for the Wallabies as debutant Kriel went over after just four minutes. The outside-centre beat a couple of defenders with pace and footwork to make the most of some more good work from his hard-working forward pack.

Schalk Burger was a force for the Springboks throughout the 80 minutes © Getty Images

Pocock came on for Scott Higginbotham on 45 minutes and the Brumbies flanker made an immediate impact when he charged down a kick from the boot of hooker Bismarck du Plessis; the Wallabies could do little with the five-metre scrum though, Kuridrani knocking on out wide. Cooper eventually took three points off the deficit on 54 minutes but the Wallabies were still under huge pressure at the breakdown.

The Wallabies had the chance to further reduce the lead when they were awarded an unlikely penalty at scrum time but Cooper hooked the kick badly. That misery was confounded a short while later as Giteau, playing his first Test in four years, failed to find a flying Folau on his inside after he'd brushed Pollard aside in defence.

But there was no doubting the Wallabies had dominated possession and territory in the second half and with their scrum seemingly now on top following the introduction of Greg Holmes and Scott Sio, Hooper was able to get through and tackle Burger behind his line for a turnover and five-metre scrum. This time the hosts took full advantage as Hooper backed up his earlier piece of good work with a barging run off the shoulder of Nick Phipps to score the Wallabies' second try. Cooper added the extras to set up a grandstand finish with five minutes to play.

Giteau had the chance to lock the scores up at 20-all but his penalty three minutes from full-time fell under the cross-bar. The Wallabies were given one last chance to steal the win with another penalty however, paving the way for Kuridrani's match-winner.

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