As the Mandela Challenge Plate is the last cup still available to the Wallabies before the end of the Tri-Nations and the start of the Spring Tour, it was all there. The series on the line standing at 1 game a piece. Of added importance to the Men of Gold is Drewster the Rooster and Squeaky getting their 50th caps.
So, which way was it set to go? According to the prophecy it should be a click, or is it a boom… I don’t know, I can’t keep up…
The kick of was done in true Australian style, Incontestable. But from there things appeared to settle down, The importance of the game was shown when a second minute penalty the Wallabies went for the sticks. The kick saw Giteau pass Micheal Lynagh for points against South Africa. M.Steyn levelled it in the 6th minute with a penalty of his own.
The penalty trading ended there when a move, put on by a couple of cracking long passes from Gits then Cooper saw Beale cross after the number favoured the Wallabies. After the usual after score fumbles were survived, a massive run from the Irish version of Rocky Elsom and a great touch finder from QC. A rare line out splutter from the Bokke saw James O’Connor cross for the Aussie’s second.
A M. Steyn penalty kept the Bokke scoreboard ticking over.
However, the 3 point scores were being far outstripped by the Wallabies try scoring as 50 test man Stephen Moore crossed after some more great work from the Wallabies. This was a real team try with a couple of special individual moments.
The momentum was clearly with the Wobs, asjust a couple of minutes later a JO’C break and pass to the Irish Rocky saw him with unable to be chased down as he crossed the line as well, Earning the Wallabies the Bonus Point. Clearly with the scoreboard at 31-6, the challenge from here was to not take the foot off the pedal and keep scoring points, without letting the bokke get a roll on. A magic Pocock moment hard on defence, right on the goal line showed that the guys had the right mindset for this.
There was a sustained period of Springbok pressure came good with the last play of the half, Victor Matfield scooped the ball off the ground, a cheeky chip and chase and regather, with a offload as he was tackled to Fourie who was there in support saw them cross for their first meat pie. The teams went to the shed with the score, a favourable palindrome, 31-13 to the good guys.
The second half started with the wobbles, Drew Mitchell knocking on a couple of moves after the reception, after the first half where everything stuck, it was a bit out of place. A Pocock turn over made up for it. Bam Bam was having a blinder. Was this the game to show that the result from last week was the exception rather than the rule for the Wallabies?
I briefly thought they may have been running the tape from last week, as Guthro Steenkamp crossed in an eerily familiar fashion to last week. The lead the Wallabies had got up was starting to look like not enough as the Bokke were getting a roll on.
Sustained pressure from the Bokke, coupled with some three stooges moments from the Wobs, paid, with Jean de Villiers crossing for the Springboks 3rd try. This was all starting to look a bit déjà vu for the Wallabies, with the scoreboard now reading 31-30. It was clear the Wallabies needed to settle and grab the game by the scruff of the neck at this point, but what wasn’t clear was whether this “group” had the experience to pull it off.
A 62nd minute penalty to Morne Steyn put the Bokke in front, they had really turned this test match around, and the Wallabies were showing the result last week, was more rule than exception
In one of the rare cases Robbie Deans uses the bench, Squeaky Moore was replaced by Saia Fiangaa, 1 minute and 19 seconds later, he shows he wasn’t quite right, giving away the stupidest of penalty’s and earning a yellow card in the process. M.Steyn kicks the 3, making the task that little bit harder.
In a potential momentum change, a short linout throw from David Pocock worked and a couple of moves later the other 50 tester, Drew Mitchell crossed for the Wallabies 5th try, to put the Wallabies back in the lead. The last 7odd minutes were going to be tight.
With less than5 minutes on the clock, The Bokke earned a penalty, and duly kicked it to put the home team a point into the lead.
Right on the bell, the Wallabies earnt a Penalty on the halfway line. They called for the Sticks. This was a gutsy call and it was up to Kurtley to kick it. The tension was huge as the kick was lined up. When it went over, there was a feeling of disbelief. Was this the moment it ALL came together? I hope so.
Australia 41 (Tries: Beale (9min), O’Connor (15min) Moore (21min) Elsom (25min) Mitchell (73min) Cons: Giteau 4, O’Connor Pens: Giteau, Beale) South Africa 39: (Tries: Fourie (39min) Steenkamp (46min) de Villiers (54min) Cons: M.Steyn 3 Pens: M.Steyn 6)