28 September, 2014, 1:43 pm
Update: 1:43PM ANGRY Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie rued poor composure and criticised his bench after a monumental Test upset slipped through Australia’s fingers at Newlands on Saturday (this morning).
The Wallabies showed great character and tenacity to lead by two points with 11 minutes left but South Africa stormed home – running riot with three tries – for a 28-10 victory after edging ahead with a drop goal.
Big centre Tevita Kuridrani and tireless flanker Scott Fardy led the way for the underdog tourists to set up what would have been the best win of McKenzie’s tenure.
But instead, the Springboks, whose big-name reserves completely outplayed Australia’s, retained the Mandela Plate and Test rugby’s No.2 ranking.
Australia couldn’t contain the rampant home side once replacement five-eighth Pat Lambie slotted the clutch field goal after 29 phases and then paid dearly for mistakes.
Newlands erupted when favourite son Jean de Villiers, the Boks captain in his last home city Test, sparked the late spree to continue the Wallabies’ 22-year drought in Cape Town.
Lambie and de Villiers, crossing for his second after the fulltime siren, rubbed salt into the wounds by punishing Australian errors with rapid counter-attacks.
“To let in three tries at the end was a really disappointing finish and probably an unfair reflection on the contribution of the team had put in across that 70 minutes,” McKenzie said.
“I actually felt for the players who set the game up, I thought they did a really good job.
“That’s probably going to get lost in the final scoreline unfortunately.”
Veteran Boks Schalk Burger and Bismarck du Plessis were integral figures, moving off a vastly experienced bench to make a major second-half impact.
Until then the Wallabies, who led 10-5 at halftime, had the momentum as they competed strongly at the set pieces and were pressuring the hosts into errors and winning the breakdown battle.
McKenzie lamented his bench – also boasting experience with the likes of James Horwill, Ben Alexander, Kurtley Beale and Scott Higginbotham – didn’t have an impact nor maintain composure.
De Villiers praised the Australians – who were credited with a massive 260 tackles – for their sterling defensive efforts but felt his men were “unstoppable” once they grabbed the momentum.
Adding injury to insult, Matt Toomua (concussion) is unlikely to play Argentina in Mendoza next weekend while forwards Rob Simmons (head knock) and Ben McCalman (shoulder) are also in doubt.
The Wallabies took their five-point lead into the break thanks to a pivotal three-minute period after the Boks had done most of the early attack.
A Fardy turnover within their 22 was quickly followed by Kuridrani forcing loose ball which resulted in a penalty goal after Joe Tomane failed to back his pace against halfback Francois Hougaard.
The 45,000-strong Newlands crowd was then silenced from the restart, where quick hands by Matt Toomua and Israel Folau put Kuridrani into space and he burst through two defenders before Adam Ashley-Cooper finished a brilliant try.
The Springboks had opened the scoring through their dangerous driving maul – with flanker Marcell Coetzee dotting down in the 13th minute.