Thursday 22 March 2018

Foley inspires Wallabies to stop the rot against Boks

Australian player Bernard Foley. Photo: Patrick Hamilton/AFP/Getty Images
Australian player Bernard Foley. Photo: Patrick Hamilton/AFP/Getty Images newsdesk

Australia overcame an early deficit to beat South Africa 23-17 in their Rugby Championship clash in Brisbane and break a run of six successive Test defeats.

Tries from lock Adam Coleman and centre Bernard Foley, who also chipped in with 13 points from the kicking tee, gave the Wallabies a first win since their semi-final victory over Argentina at last year's World Cup.

"It's been a tough period but we're really proud to come out and get a win tonight," said a relieved Australia captain Stephen Moore in a touchline interview. "It's always a tough game against the Springboks and they played really well so we're happy with a first win after so many losses."

Number eight Warren Whiteley and fullback Johan Goosen crossed to give the Springboks an early lead but the visitors faded after their fast start and managed only one Morne Steyn penalty after the break.

"We let ourselves down with some indiscipline," said South Africa skipper Adriaan Strauss. "We had a great start but the discipline cost us and kept us on the back foot."

Australia's first four points of the campaign were not enough to lift them off the bottom of the standings, which New Zealand (15 points) lead from South Africa (6) and Argentina (5) after three wins in their first three matches.

Heavy rain earlier in the day made for slippery conditions at Lang Park but South Africa, looking to make amends for a loss to Argentina in their last game, made a more than sure-footed start.

Whiteley crashed over from close range to give them a third-minute reward for their early pressure and Goosen's converted score put them 14-3 up after 18 minutes.

Australia, looking solid in the set-piece and fluent in attack, gradually worked their way back into the match, however, and scrum-half Will Genia's lofted pass put Coleman in to score in the corner in the 27th minute. Foley added his second penalty five minutes before half-time and his third, which came when Boks lock Eben Etzebeth was sin-binned for killing the ball, just after the break gave the home side the lead for the first time at 16-14.

Australia centre Samu Kerevi crossed the line four minutes later, only for the try to be ruled out by Nigel Owens for a foot in touch and the match remained finely poised when Etzebeth returned. The Wallabies continued to press, however, and one sustained 18-phase attack culminated in Foley cutting through the defensive line to roll over the line and score.

Replacement fly-half Steyn kicked a penalty to cut Australia's lead to six points with 15 minutes remaining but, despite a few nervous moments, the Wallabies held on to claim a morale-boosting victory.

Meanwhile, fly-half Beauden Barrett grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck just when he needed to as the All Blacks scored three tries in 10 minutes in the second half to beat a combative Argentina 57-22 in their clash in Hamilton.

Barrett, who scored a first-half try and kicked six conversions, broke the game open just as the Pumas looked like they could cause a major upset while trailing 24-22 with about 30 minutes remaining.

Coach Steve Hansen, however, then went to his bench earlier than expected and the home side scored five unanswered tries to earn their third successive bonus-point victory after two comfortable wins over Australia.

"It was a real Test match, we really had to work hard for it," All Blacks captain Kieran Read said. "We certainly came out with some intent and they matched it, and that's exactly what you want, games against quality sides. It was a good game."

Unlike two weeks ago when the Wallabies seemed more intent to spoil the game rather than play it, the Pumas took the home side on, with Facundo Isa, Pablo Matera and Agustin Creevy driving through the middle and then stretching them out wide.

Their high-tempo, possession-based approach also ensured they did not allow the All Blacks to counter-attack as the home side found themselves under immense pressure and gave away numerous kickable penalties. Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez slotted four penalties, while winger Santiago Cordero finished off a beautiful movement early in the first half.

The All Blacks, however, looked just as dangerous when they did get their hands on the ball with Julian Savea, Barrett and Ben Smith crossing for first-half tries, which the fly-half converted, while Israel Dagg slotted a long-range penalty.

Sanchez narrowed the gap 10 minutes into the second half with another penalty but Barrett and the bench then took over as the injection of fresh blood upped the intensity.

"That bench was outstanding for us," Read added. "We've got a squad of 32 who can come on and do a job, the 23 was needed . . . and they did a great job."

Sunday Indo Sport

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