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Alexander stops rot for Wallabies

Australia avoided a third successive defeat after a 26-19 comeback win over South Africa in Perth.

The Wallabies, who suffered back-to-back losses to New Zealand in their opening two matches, failed to penetrate the South African defence in the first half and trailed 13-6 at the interval. However, they crossed twice in the second period to secure the victory and move to within two points of the previously undefeated Springboks, who had claimed a win and a draw against Argentina in their previous two outings. Wallabies substitute Scott Higginbotham replaced Radike Samo at No 8 and had an immediate impact when he broke through the South African line and scored alongside the uprights in the 56th minute. Prop Ben Alexander then ploughed into the corner in the 69th minute to score what would prove to be the decisive try.

Berrick Barnes contributed the rest of Australia's points as he finished with a 100pc record with the boot, while Morne Steyn and Francois Steyn combined for 14 of South Africa's 19 points, with the visitors' sole try coming from Bryan Habana.

New Zealand were made to work hard for a 21-5 victory over newcomers Argentina in awful conditions in Wellington.

The All Blacks led only 6-5 after a first half littered with handling errors, but Aaron Cruden's third penalty and tries in the final quarter from Julian Savea and Cory Jane secured victory. A third win from as many games leaves New Zealand top of the table with 12 points, with Australia on six and South Africa trailing by two points on four, while Argentina remain on two points for the tournament.

Irish Independent