The Wallabies have let slip a ten point margin and have walked away from their clash with South Africa in Perth with a 23-23 draw.
It was a missed opportunity for the Wallabies in a game that was relatively scrappy and did not reach any real heights. The Springboks easily won the breakdown battle with the Wallabies a clear second on the night with their cleaning out work lacking the physicality it required to shift the Boks forwards.
It was a nervous start for the Wallabies with a kick off from Bernard Foley failing to go the required distance quickly followed by two penalties to allow Elton Jantjies to open the scoring for the Springboks after just four minutes.
The Wallabies hit back with a penalty of their own to level the scores through Foley only minutes later after attempting to shift the ball down the left wing in the lead up.
Despite the greasy conditions both sides were prepared to shift the ball wide with some good handling from Israel Folau saw him find some space and link with Reece Hodge but he was unable to capitalise.
Hodge stepped up with a long range penalty shot from 45 metres but that was off target.
There were concerns early on with the Wallabies forwards ability to clear out Springboks defenders around the ruck as they slowed the ball down to create sloppy ball for Will Genia to use.
The concussion curse for Tatafu Polota-Nau continued as he had to leave the field before 20 minutes was up for a check to give Jordan Uelese his Wallabies debut but Polota-Nau would later return to the field.
The visitors were the first to score a five pointer after 25 minutes following a turnover near halfway where a ruck cleanout went wrong and the kicked ahead with Raymond Rhule and Michael Hooper in pursuit before they went shoulder to shoulder that resulted in Hooper falling over and Kriel swooping in to score. Referee Glen Jackson looked to award the Wallabies a penalty but held off and after consultation with the assistant ref, the try stood.
It only took minutes for the Wallabies to respond after they regathered the restart and a few phases later, Kurtley Beale danced his way through the defence for the first Wallabies try.
Neither side could really threaten the line again with the Wallabies able to take a three-point lead at the break with Foley’s second penalty of the half.
Beale was probably the Wallabies best in the first half as he created chances most times he had the ball. Reece Hodge and Tevita Kuridrani also had a solid half and carried well into contact.
The Wallabies started the second half well by attacking the Boks down their right edge with some good play in the 15 metre channel.
They declined a penalty shot at goal and went to a five metre lineout and it was that local man Polota-Nau who Forced his way over off the back and with Foley’s conversion it made it a 10 point game at 20-10.
The Springboks nearly hit back to Jan Serfontein but Michael Hooper brought him down in a covering tackle after a big hit from Siya Kolisi on Adam Coleman forced the turnover. They did settle for another penalty from Jantjies to make 20-13 on 55 minutes.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Springboks put on a rolling maul clinic off lineout 20 metres and the power was too much for the splintering defence and Malcolm Marx came up with the five pointer and with Jantjies conversion, the game was level at 20-20.
With both sides emptying the benches, it looked like the Springboks had the stronger as they went close to scoring next as they capitalised on a Wallabies mistake at a scrum but in the shadows of the posts knocked on. But they again flexed their scrum muscle to earn a penalty that Jantjies easily converted for a 23-20 lead.
The scores were again level minutes later with Foley’s third penalty to set up a tense final ten minutes.
The Springboks looked the more likely to steal the win after they earned a penalty from a lineout and they worked their way ahead in small chunks to give Jantjies a drop goal attempt but it was charged down and then a knock on from Jesse Kriel ended their chance of winning. The Wallabies tried to go coast to coast to win but they also knocked on to end the game at 23-23.
The Game Changer
With the Wallabies up 20-10 after 55 minutes, they were unable to close out the game. The replacement forwards for the Wallabies saw the scrum suffer and the Boks pounced to come back to level the scores.
The G&GR MOTM
For the Wallabies, Kurtley Beale was their best with a try and his general play lifting the players in the backline. For the Boks, Jaco Kriel had a big game around the ruck and causing a nuisance. Pieter-Steph du Toit ran a close second.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Beale, Polota-Nau
Conversions: Foley 2
Penalties: Foley 3
Tries: Jesse Kriel, Marx
Conversions: Jantjies 2
Penalties: Jantjies 3