A disappointed Springboks have reason to feel hard done by after a controversial sin-binning of Bryan Habana late in the match was a catalyst for the Wallabies comeback.
The Wallabies got off to a flier in the opening two minutes with a spectacular take from the kick-off from Israel Folau and then a try to him soon after off the back of a lineout.
Irish referee George Clancy doesn’t like to not be involved though, gifting three points to the Springboks’ marksman Morne Steyn with a ruck penalty.
Having hardly threatened in the stop-start opening 15 minutes the Springboks took the lead with a excellent backline move that committed too many gold defenders and gave Cornal Henricks a simple finish near the corner. Steyn gave the Aussies a small reprieve and showed he’s only human by missing the conversion.
It was then locked up at 8-8 when after Scott Fardy made a break and the Springboks couldn’t avoid the penalty on their line. Almost immediately Steyn was knocking over another three points when Fardy was caught offside. And by the time he knocked over the next penalty it was the 26th minute.
The Wallabies were fortunate to peg three points back when James Slipper was hit with a perfect tackle but Clancy saw fit to award a penalty, which Foley duly accepted.
The hosts should have gone to the break in the lead after a deft kick in behind from Foley found the hands of a flying Adam Ashley-Cooper who couldn’t hold onto it.
The Wallabies were back level at 14-14 a minute into the second half, with Foley potting over a penalty from 30m out.
The Boks were ahead again though punishing the Wallabies for a Matt Toomua kick going dead and then a slack scrum in front of the posts as Steyn added to his tally.
A break from Habana in his 100th Test almost set up a Springboks runaway try, but the territory was turned into points with the Aussies’ scrum struggling again and putting the visitors 20-14 up.
With the momentum shifting, the resulting kick-off was kicked out on the full by Foley and South Africa, now camped in the Wallabies’ half, were soon rewarded as James Horwill, coming off the bench, didn’t roll away and Steyn took another three points.
The Aussies were then given a gift as Clancy turned the game on its head, giving a harsh dangerous tackle penalty against the Springboks and sending Habana off for 10 minutes with a yellow card.
The hosts almost blew the chance, keeping the ball in hand from the penalty and although they found the line a try was disallowed, rightly this time, due to an infringement.
An offside penalty for Foley narrowed the gap to six, with 12 minutes to run on the clock.
Kurtley Beale’s introduction added spark to the Wallabies backline which by the end had six of its seven backs from the Waratahs.
With five minutes and still a man up a Wallabies try-line onslaught was repeatedly repelled by the Boks. The Aussies earned the penalty, took a tap and went again before South Africa win their own penalty in a potential match-winner.
But the Wallabies weren’t done. With Habana about to come back on some magic from Folau led to a bustling Rob Horne try.
Bernard Foley’s clutch conversion then gave them a 24-23 lead before they managed to hold on for the final minute.
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