Australia 25 (10) South Africa 17 (3)
Boks’ season in tatters after abject Adelaide performance
Australia outsmarted and frustrated a poor Springboks’ team to inflict yet another defeat on the world champions in a season that is quickly unravelling.
The Springboks’ season is in tatters. They have lost three out of six Tests already in 2022 and have a further six away games to come. Their performances are regressing and their confidence ebbing.
Australia’s 25-17 win at the Adelaide Oval was never in doubt from their strong start to their committed defence at crucial times. The Boks were never in the game because they failed to show any cutting edge when the match was still in the balance.
It was a woeful performance by the Boks. Missed tackles, poor options on attack and basic errors allowed the home team to build on the strong start. The Boks carry the moniker of world champions, but their performance was anything but.
The Wallabies totally deserved to win and two late Kwagga Smith tries lent the final scoreline more credibility than the Bok performance deserved.
Springbok players looked lost in the face of an Australian side that niggled, whined and rode the edge of the law with superb levels of skullduggery – and dare we say it – shithousery.
How the otherwise excellent wing Marika Koroibete survived a yellow card to stop opposite number Makazole Mapimpi scoring in the corner with a shoulder charge, will remain a mystery. It was yellow all day, and probably a penalty try too.
But the officials looked away, as they did several more times throughout the game. The Wallabies forwards had at least two ‘final’ warnings for sacking the Bok maul.
Just before halftime Wallaby scrumhalf Nic White collapsed as if he’d been felled by a Tyson Fury haymaker as Faf de Klerk’s fingers caught him the cheek when trying to dislodge the ball.
White’s histrionics were Neymar-esque, but it did the trick and De Klerk went to the sin bin for “making contact with an opponents’ face”.
Considering that Koroibete’s assault on Mapimpi went unpunished moments before, it underlined the high farce of the officiating.
But nothing was as farcical as the Boks’ performance. They appeared to be in a slumber in the opening 10 minutes of each half, periods in which the Wallabies scored 15 points.
The Wallabies’ opening try for industrious flank Fraser McReight was a wonderful multiphase move that punched holes in the Boks’ defence with deft offloading.
For the opening 10 minutes the Boks barely had the ball, and flyhalf Noah Lolesio added an eighth minute penalty. For the third time this season the Boks were 10-0 down and already facing a long way back.
Once the visitors did secure some ball, primarily from turnovers, the momentum shifted but the Boks couldn’t make it count. Promising attacking moves, with lock Lood de Jager twice marauding through the line after nice short passes, broke down.
Australia conceded four penalties in quick succession and Handre Pollard promptly missed two of his three shots at goal, which failed to create scoreboard pressure.
Pollard was just one of several players who struggled. Hooker Joseph Dweba battled again and looks off the pace in Test rugby. Pieter-Steph du Toit has not reached anywhere near his 2019 heights and the match-shy Frans Steyn was a shadow of the player who terrorised the All Blacks in the Gold Coast in 2021.
Living on the edge
After their strong start, the Wallabies lived on the edge for the remainder of the half, conceding four more penalties and suffering a yellow card when wing Tom Wright was sin-binned for repeated infringements. And still the ham-fisted Boks didn’t make it count.
South Africa’s record in Australia in the professional era is poor. And as the Wallabies survived each attack, mainly through the Boks’ own errors, it became obvious their superb record was going to improve.
De Klerk’s yellow, just before the break, was match-defining. With the halfback off, Warrick Gelant played scrumhalf meaning there was space on the wing for the Wallabies to exploit.
The extra man, coupled with another sluggish 10 minutes from the Boks at the start of the second half, led to a try for Koroibete, which increased the size of the task for the Boks.
Ten minutes later, Lolesio punched through a hole after a deft inside ball from Wallaby skipper James Slipper that left defensive pillar Steven Kitshoff for dead. Lolesio made 25 metres before throwing the chicken-wing offload to McReight who completed the score. Game Over.
From then on it was a curious case of nothing. More than a quarter of the match remained and both sides seemed to go through the motions. Most of the Boks looked resigned to their fate and the Wallabies appeared happy enough that the job was done.
Eben Etzebeth never stopped trying though. His hard work was instrumental in Smith’s two late tries, but it was much too little, and way too late.
Etzebeth, who along with De Jager, Siya Kolisi and Lukhanyo Am were among the few to emerge with some credit, will be a crucial voice in the coming week.
The Boks are at a crossroads in their season but also in their journey under coach Jacques Nienaber. Too many times poor performances, and worse, poor results, are excused in the name of World Cup development and “learnings”.
If there is development and learning going on, it’s being well hidden in the performances. DM
Australia – Tries: Fraser McReight (2), Marika Koroibete. Conversions: Noah Lolesio (2). Penalties: Lolesio (2)
South Africa – Tries: Kwagga Smith (2). Conversions: Elton Jantjies, Jaden Hendrikse. Penalty: Handre Pollard.