Sunday, July 20, 2008
The Wallabies won their fourth straight game under New Zealand coach Robbie Deans to open their Tri-Nations campaign with a 16-9 victory over South Africa in Perth on Saturday. Australia scored the only two tries of the match, with Berrick Barnes sealing the win in the final minute with a neat 25 meter drop goal.
The Springboks went into the game confident after their win last weekend, but from the outset looked weary and uninspired, with the Wallaby backrow trio of George Smith, Wycliff Palu and Rocky Elsom making them pay for their All Black hangover. They dominated the breakdown virtually all match, forcing 35 turnovers in all.
It was a scrappy match that lacked any real flow, marked by mistakes from both sides with the Wallabies halfback combination looking rusty, and the Springboks generally not looking up for it. Some quality finishing, and the domination at the breakdown by the Wallabies was ultimately what made the difference on the night.
"We were taught a lesson at the breakdown. We lost too many balls there and without the ball you cannot play. They also put us under pressure on defence." Springbok captain Victor Matfield said afterwards.
"The intensity definitely wasn't up to what it was last week, but we still created three or four chances in the first half. If we took those then we probably would have had the boost we wanted, but we didn't and the game got away from us."
Winger Bryan Habana blamed himself for the loss, after he had the Sprinboks beat chance to score when out wide, before being tackled by Ryan Cross and losing control of the ball.
"Credit to Ryan Cross, but at the end of the day as a team we pride ourselves on execution and I wasn't able to execute. We didn't execute and that cost us the game more than the Wallabies beating us."
Wallaby head coach Robbie Deans was full of praise for his players in the way they handled the game.
"The thing that I took a liking to was the pride, and as a result of that pride the willingness to engage and defend," said Deans.
"These guys are very proud, they love what they do, love representing Australia and that is a necessity when you have traffic coming the other way that is just as willing."
Australia host New Zealand in Sydney next week for the first of their Bledisloe Cup encounters.
PLEASE NOTE: This video has been removed by Mediazone, who own the rights to the footage and no longer allow us to use it. Apologies from our side.