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Australia stuns South Africa: Cooper puts boot into Boks

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Australia edged South Africa 26-28 to open their 2021 Rugby Championship account at CBUS Super Stadium, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Quade Cooper returned to stun South Africa with a last-ditch long-range penalty to beat the reigning World Champions.

Cooper, playing his 71st Test, kicked an 82nd-minute penalty to seal a famous victory on the Australian east coast.

Defeat means the Springboks have only won four Tests down under in 27 since 1996.


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Despite being outscored by three tries to one, Cooper’s excellence from the tee, coupled with Handre Pollard’s profligacy, meant the Aussies were always in the game.

The Springboks have not won in Australia since 2013, eight years, which is terrible. That they could not beat a weak Aussie team that cannot buy a win, is an indictment.

The Boks’ 27-year-old flyhalf had a mare from with the boot, he missed two penalties and a conversion, which proved costly.

South Africa‘s forwards almost pulled the defending champions and World’s Number One Ranked team through with a devastating display of mauling not seen since the Boks mauled England in the 2019 World cup Final.

Both South African hooker’s scored from driving mauls; Mbongeni Mbonambi in the first half, Malcolm Marx in the second, but it was not enough.

Marx bagged a second-half brace as the Boks ‘Bomb Squad’ began to emasculate the opposition’s pack.

Both teams had two men sent to the sin-bin, but both times Australia managed the clock, and the scoreboard, better than the Boks.

Australia, however, had the last laugh after their pack won a scrum penalty to give Cooper a shot at winning the Test; he made no mistake.

New Zealand‘s thrashing of Argentina, coupled with South Africa’s loss leaves the All Blacks clear at the top of the Rugby Championship table, and in the pound seats.

Return of the King

Cooper’s boot was the difference. The returning veteran was flawless from the kicking tee, knocking over seven penalties and a conversion for 23 points in his first Test since June 2017.

It was a masterstroke by coach Dave Rennie, who made the switch from the beleaguered Noah Lolesio.

Andrew Kellaway scored Australia’s only try.

Cooper made a triumphant return to the Wallabies after a four-year hiatus, scoring 11 points as Australia bushwhacked the defending World Cup champs and 2019 Rugby Championship winners.

The 33-year-old playmaker brought much-needed experience to a young Australian side who had only won three of their previous 12 Tests.

Humiliation at the hands of New Zealand, who swept the Aussies 3-0 in one of the most lop-sided Bledisloe Cup series in recent memory, saw Rennie recall the mercurial standoff.

Rugby Championship: New Zealand versus Argentina, CBUS Super Stadium, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

South Africa is a team Cooper loves playing, having beaten the Springboks in 10 of 14 Tests.

Six of the seven matches came from first receiver.

Australia got the better of South Africa’s much-vaunted pack. They won an important scrum penalty – on the Boks put-in – before the interval, while also causing havoc in the lineout.

Despite making more handling errors and conceding more turnovers and penalties, Hooper’s side took a deserved eight-point lead into the shed.

Cooper kicked three penalties and converted Kellaways 17th-minute try Australia took a commanding 19-11 lead.

Pollard kicked two penalties, but missed a shot at goal and could not convert Mbonambi’s 28th-minute score.

Both teams had a player yellow carded. Siya Kolisi got his marching orders for a dangerous tackle on Tom Banks, which led to a converted try to the Aussies.

Matt Philip went to the naughty step for cynical play in the driving maul on his try line; South Africa scored from the next drive.

Cooper kicked a penalty while Philip was in the bin for a net loss of two points as his side stayed ahead of the game.

South Africa increased the heat, scoring twice through Marx, whose second score put Jacques Nienaber’s men ahead for the first time since the 12th-minute.

Pollard missed three kicks accounting for eight points; it proved fatal for his side.

Damian Willemse also missed a late conversion meaning the Boks left 10 fatal points on the field.

Cooper out-kicked his opposite number, pulling his side over the line.

Nienaber will need to pick his side up from a devasting defeat, but if any team can come back from the brink, it’s the Boks.

Next week will be epic when the two sides go at it again.

Australia on top after commanding display by Cooper, and the forwards, who nullified the Bok pack

The standoffs traded two penalties apiece before Kellaway scored under the posts at the end of the first quarter.

It was a sensational try made in the midfield but finished by the wide men.

Samu Kerevi broke Faf de Klerk’s weak tackle, drew Pollard before releasing the winger, who cut inside Makazole Mapimpi and Willie Le Roux, and dived under the sticks.

Cooper converted to open up a seven-point lead.

South Africa’s flyhalf then missed his first kick.

Lukhanyo Am knocked on a certain try when it looked easier to score – Pollard and Am both had their worst games for the Boks.

The Boks did, however, get the penalty for offside, and kicked to the corner again.

Philip was carded, and Mbonambi crashed over after another driving maul.

Pollard missed the conversion before Cooper extended his side’s lead on 33 minutes.

A promising attack end with Lodewyk de Jager’s tackle knocking the ball out of Allan Alaalatoa’s hands near the Springboks try line in the last minute before the break.

But the Wallabies dismantled the Boks pack with a demolition job from the tight five. Cooper kicked his fourth goal after the hooter to increase the gap.

South Africa claw their way back into the game as both sides see yellow again

Pollard missed an early shot at goal after the restart. He hit the left post from in front but made up for it with his third goal on 46 minutes.

Cooper canceled out the three points after Le Roux’s yellow card for a deliberate knockdown five minutes later to make it 22-14.

Just like the first stanza, each team had a man in the bin.

As time ticked down, the Boks began to assert themselves, the ‘Bomb Squad’ doing what they do best: squeezing the tired opposition.

Folau Fainga’a’s chop tackle on Retshegofaditswe Nché led to the hooker seeing yellow from referee Luke Pearce.

Hooper wasn’t happy, he remonstrated with Mr. Pearce but to no avail because Marx flopped over the whitewash after another powerful driving maul.

Pollard landed the wide conversion to make it a one-point game going into the final quarter.

Cooper slotted a long-range penalty on 63 minutes to make it 25-21.

Hooper, playing in his record-equalling Test as Australian captain, was cutting a frustrated figure as his team leaked penalties.

Thrilling end to a see-sawing battle

Sbu Nkosi went close, and Le Roux was tackled out by Kerevi after Makazole Mapimpi’s flick back to the fullback.

The Aussies held firm until Marx scored again after another demolition job on the tiring Wallabies’ pack.

Willemse could not convert, but the Boks led by one with seven minutes remaining.

Reece Hodge, on for his 50th cap, knocked on Hooper’s pass when Willemse tackled him with a two-on-one advantage.

It did not prove costly, however, because the Aussie pack dug deep. They won a scrum penalty just before the hooter sounded.

Up stepped Cooper, despite Hodge being on the field, to break Springboks hearts, and send the Australian fans into a frenzy.

Final Score: South Africa 26 (11) Australia 28 (19)

Scorers

South Africa
Tries – Mbonambi, Marx (2)
Pen – Pollard (3)
Con – Pollard
Drop –
Cards – Kolisi (Yellow, 16′), Le Roux (Yellow, 51′)

Australia
Tries – Kellaway
Pen – Copper (7)
Con – Cooper
Drop –
Cards – Philip (Yellow, 27′), Fainga’a (Yellow, 58′)

Match Officials
Referee:  Luke Pearce (ENG)
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: Matthew Carley

Teams

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Replacements:
16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nché, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

Australia

15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (50th Test), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Angus Bell

Replacements:
16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Nic White, 22 Reece Hodge (50th Test), 23 Jordan Petaia

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  1. Pingback: Australia stuns South Africa: Cooper puts boot into Boks – Super Rugby | Super 15 Rugby and Rugby Championship News,Results and Fixtures from Super XV Rugby – Rugby in Perth

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