The Springboks suffered a heartbreaking defeat in Perth as a dubious yellow card to Test centurion Bryan Habana turned the match on it’s head, as the Wallabies fought back brilliantly to score late in the game and win 24-23 in the rain.
The Wallabies struck first through magic man Israel Folau, who crossed with just a minute on the clock for a dream start. The Boks bounced back though, scoring an excellent try through Cornal Hendricks after some lovely hands from star fullback Willie Le Roux.
The Springboks shot out to a 23-14 lead in the second half but as the Wallabies attacked, Habana’s desperation tackle was deemed high by Irish referee George Clancy. While reaching for the pocket he was told by the assistant ref to take another look, which he did, but still chose to card Habana.
Australia threw everything into attack and while some impressive defence held them out, a poor Morne Steyn error – not finding touch from a turnover penalty – gave them another crack with time almost up. Some brilliance from Kurtley Beale and Folau allowed Horne to finish well in the corner.
Waratah Foley stepped up and converted, giving them a 24-23 victory. Steyn’s poor few minutes were capped off by him failing to kick the ball 10m from the restart, handing possession back to the home side, who hung on and celebrated a famous come from behind win.
It was the first Springbok in 11 months, but coach Heyneke Meyer chose not to comment on the Habana incident, or the puzzling high tackle penalty on Duane Vermeulen in the first half.
“What happened is done and it can’t be changed. We’re very disappointed with the defeat because we played very well. I thought we controlled the second half very well, playing against the wind, and the yellow card disrupted our plans on how we wanted to use the bench.
“No excuses though, it’s a defeat and it really hurts. We now need to set our sights on our next match, which is our third away from home on the trot, and rectify matters against New Zealand in Wellington. It will take a monumental effort and we’ve got a lot of respect for New Zealand, but I believe we can beat them there,” he added ahead of next weekend’s match.