Tri Nations 2005
Springboks edge out Wallabies
July 30, 2005
Breyton Paulse races away from Chris Latham to score
© Getty Images
South Africa maintained their impressive home record by opening their 2005 Tri Nations campaign with a 22-16 victory over Australia at the Loftus Stadium in Pretoria.
Australia were a much improved side that succumbed to their hosts in their Mandela Plate clash last weekend but they were still below par.
In the end they could not prevent the reigning Tri Nations champions from increasing their unbeaten run at home since Jake White took charge to 10 games.
The losing bonus point will be of little consolation for Eddie Jones, who has yet to win in South Africa in six attempts. And his side will rue what could have been after they went into the break deservedly ahead 13-11.
South Africa flyhalf Pretorius marshalled his backline superbly, but it was fullback Percy Montgomery who stole the show, slotting a total of 14 points from three penalties, a drop-goal and a conversion to esnure he became the first Springbok to pass the 500-point Test points mark.
Before kick-off Australia were forced to revamp their back row, after No.8 David Lyons was forced out because of a virus. John Roe was moved from the flank to No.8, while Phil Waugh moved into the back row.
It what was a closely contested clash the homeside opened the scoring in the first few minutes with Montgomery slotting a penalty.
But there was little between the sides, and few try-scoring chances due to two strong defensive performances and opposing locks Victor Matfield and Daniel Vickerman impressing througout with the Springbok unlucky not to get the man of the match nod.
Two penalties from the ever-lively Matt Giteau gave Australia the advantage midway through the first period but a smart drop goal from Montgomery on the hlaf hour mark brought the scores level once again.
However, Australia were rewarded for their enterprise before the break with a try from flanker George Smith.
Wing Wendell Sailor had the Springboks scampering back to re-group before beinghauled down in the 22. The ball was recycled well with Stephen Larkham once again pulling the strings. Smith arrived on cue to crash over for the five-pointer and the Wallabies had the lead again, after an unneccessary trip to the video referee.
The extras from the boot of Giteau ensured the Wallabies´ went into the break on the front foot and hopeful of scoring a historic win in Pretoria.
Fired on by a vociferous crowd the Springboks soon responded in the second half.
The rocket that is Bryan Habana was once again the key for the hosts injecting some timely pace down the touchline, he was held up by the Wallabies´ defence but offloaded superbly in the tackle to Montgomery who was ably supported by Paulse, who danced into score and move to second on the all-time Springboks tryscorers list.
The conversion from Montgomery followed to level the scores once again but the Wallabies rallied again with another penalty from Giteau to edge his team in front once more.
But the Springboks sensed a winning start to their defence of the Tri Nations crown and their efforts brought more reward with two more penalties from the boot of Montgomery.
Australia´s challenge had all been snuffed out when Andre Pretorius sealed the win with a last gasp drop goal.
South Africa continue their campaign by entertaining New Zealand next weekend.
Meanwhile Australia have time to re-group after a gruelling week, both on and off the field, before welcoming the All Blacks to Sydney in a fortnight´s time.
South Africa: 22 Try: Paulse Con: Montgomery Pen: Montgomery DG: Montgomery, Pretorius
Australia: 16 Try: Smith Con: Giteau Pen: Giteau (3)
South Africa: Steenkamp, Smit, van der Linde, G.Botha, Matfield, van Niekerk, Smith, Cronje, du Preez, Pretorius, Habana, de Villiers, Fourie, Paulse, Montgomery.
Replacements: B.Botha, Andrews, van den Berg, Burger, Januarie, van der Westhuyzen, Joubert.
Australia: Young, Paul, Dunning, Vickerman, Sharpe, Waugh, Smith, Roe, Gregan, Larkham, Tuqiri, Giteau, Turinui, Sailor, Latham.
Replacements: Moore, Chisholm, Elsom, Whitaker, Mortlock, Mitchell.
Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand)