Rugby-Championship

Rugby Championship: Australia edge South Africa in Adelaide

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Australia beat South Africa 25-17 in Round Three of a controversial 2022 Rugby Championship at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide.

Australia won a controversial Rugby Championship Test match – marred by dubious officiating – to get back to winning ways at the famous old cricket ground.

The Wallabies scored three tries to two while keeping the Springboks to just three points – and scoreless for 50 minutes – until Kwagga Smith dotted down twice at the end.

Smith’s double, however, was not enough to gloss over another disparaging Springboks’ display or iffy officiating.


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Take nothing away from the Wallabies, who dug deep to come back from a historic hammering by Argentina in San Juan in round two.

The home team took their chances and kept a rampaging opposition from scoring during a testing period in the first half.

Marika Koroibete scored a sensational second-half try to help the Aussies claim a controversial victory over the World champions in the Adelaide sunshine.

Koroibete should have been yellow-carded for a no-arms tackle in the air on Makazole Mapimpi late in the first half.

The officials, however, did not check or did not care about the dangerous tackle and the winger stayed on the pitch.

Faf de Klerk was then yellow-carded minutes later after some histrionics from Nic White. Baffling.

Those two calls in quick succession all but did for Jacques Nienaber’s struggling side.

Australia led 10-3 at halftime before pulling away after the break.

Fraser McReight bagged a brace on either side of Koroibete’s second stanza score as the Wallabies put an out-of-sorts South Africa to the sword.

Noah Lolesio, who has won the starting berth at standoff, kicked two penalties and conversions apiece (10 pts) in an assured display at first receiver.

Lolesio also set up McReight’s second score with a brilliant angled run and offload to put the hosts 25-3 up after 65 minutes.

Two late scores from Smith made no difference to a strange Test at a strange venue.

South Africa’s poor record down under continues as Australia once again outsmarted and outplayed the World Champions.

The Wallabies had won both of their previous Tests in the South Australian capital (29-14 vs Pacific Islanders in 2004, 142-0 vs Namibia in 2003).

South Africa’s record in Australia is morbid. They have only won four Tests down under since Tri-Nations/The Rugby Championship started in 1996 (five since readmission in 1992).

The Springboks had not won down under in nine years since beating the Wallabies 38-12 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, in 2013.

South Africa’s poor run in Australia is a cause for concern as they slump to another defeat down under.

South Africa is now winless in their last eight Tests against the Wallabies in Australia. This defeat will do nothing to silence Nienaber’s critics, especially after another tepid start to a Test.

Siya Kolisi moved ahead of Jean de Villiers (37 Tests) to become the second-most capped Springbok captain in Adelaide.

But Kolisi was largely a bystander as his team suffered at the hands of the officials and their own mistakes.

The Boks set piece, although better than the opposition, was off-colour as the tourists missed several lineout throws and conceded scrum penalties.

The Wallabies raced into a seven-minute 10-point lead through McReight and the boot of Lolesio.

Dave Rennie’s side took just 62 seconds to open the scoring after a dazzling attack when Damian Willemse dropped Lolesio’s kick-off.

Handré Pollard had a mare. He shanked two penalty attempts in quick succession to keep the tourists scoreless going into the second quarter.

Pollard also missed another tackle which led to a try for the opposition.

Continued Australian ill-discipline finally proved costly when Pollard struck a 24th-minute goal from in front.

Nienaber’s men dominated the next 10 minutes. The visitors spent an age inside the opposition’s 22, but could not capitalise despite having an extra man after Tom Wright’s yellow card on the half-hour.

Wright went off for a cynical foul. The winger was miles offside when he tackled Duane Vermeulen after the No 8 took a quick-tap penalty. Boks opted for another scrum, but the Wallabies’ front row won a scrum penalty when the Boks angled in.

Both teams’ set pieces were a mess as multiple lineouts and scrums were lost by both sides in a shoddy display for this level.

McReight gave away the Aussies’ eighth penalty of the half in the 36th minute to allow the Boks to set up another attacking lineout.

Referee Paul Williams makes some questionable calls as Marika Koroibete survives a dubious challenge, while Faf de Klerk goes to the bin after Nic White’s histrionics.

Mr Williams should have shown another yellow card twice against the Wallabies at the end of the half.

Multiple infringements at the lineout by the hosts went unpunished despite two warnings for captain James Slipper.

Koroibete smashed Mapimpi in the air to knock the Bok speedster into touch. Mapimpi lost the ball forward in contact to give the Wallabies a 5m scrum on their line.

Koroibete should have been sent to the sideline for a no-arms tackle on Mapimpi, who was hit with the Aussie winger’s shoulder in the air.

Yet again, White had to dot down inside his in-goal area following Springboks’ pressure at the set piece.

However, Faf de Klerk was sent to the sideline after flicking White’s face while attempting to knock the ball out of the scrumhalf’s hands.

Despite the stupidity of De Klerk, he should not have gone to the bin. White milked the flick of his face as if he was Bruno Fernandes playing for Manchester United.

The halfback fell to the ground as if hit by a sniper. The ref bought it, sending the wrong scrummy to the naughty step.

The home team managed to hold on to take a fortunate 10-3 lead into the sheds.

More frustrations as Springboks conceded another early score after the restart while missing too many opportunities themselves.

South Africa came out flying, but could not take their chances as poor handling kept the Australians ahead.

Koroibete’s stop-and-go does Pollard before the winger beats Pieter-Steph du Toit and Mapimpi to score.

Lolesio’s conversion glanced the wrong side of the upright but his side had a formidable two-goal advantage.

If the game was not over then, it was over 10 minutes later when McReight finished off a stunning attack involving both backs and forwards.

Rob Valetini carried into the Bok half to the 10m. White played and looped Slipper at first receiver.

The 120-Test prop was then passed inside to Lolesio on the angle.

A huge gap opened for the standoff to race down the field before offloading out the back door to the supporting McReight, who dived over under the sticks. Game over.

Lolesio converted before knocking over his second goal with 15 minutes remaining. By now, the game was over.

South Africa did, however, keep going. They scored twice at the death through Smith to give the scoreboard some respectability.

Australia sat off the Boks. With minutes remaining, Steven Kitshoff combined with Vincent Koch to send Kwagga Smith away.

It was a sublime attack with some deft interplay between the three forwards to give the tourists a consolation score. Elton Jantjies converted.

Smith was soon over again after Valetini’s yellow card for cynical play. Jaden Hendrikse’s drop-kick conversion was not taken quickly enough for one more play.

Final Score: Australia 25 (10) South Africa 17 (3)

Scorers

Australia
Tries – McReight (2), Koroibete
Pen – Lolesio (2)
Con – Lolesio (2)
Drop –
Cards – Wright (Yellow, 30′), Valetini (Yellow, 80′)

South Africa 
Tries – Smith (2)
Pen – Pollard
Con – E. Jantjies, Hendrikse
Drop –
Cards – De Klerk (Yellow, 40′)

Match Officials
Referee: Paul Williams [New Zealand]
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keeffe [New Zealand]
Assistant Ref 2: Tual Trainini [France]
TMO: Brendon Pickerill [New Zealand]

Teams

Australia

15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain)

Replacements: 16 David Porecki, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Tate McDermott, 23 Andrew Kellaway

South Africa

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Warrick Gelant, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois (Faf) de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda (Siya) Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk (Lood) de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Retshegofaditswe (Ox) Nche

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Albertus (Kwagga) Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Francois (Frans) Steyn

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