Both the Wallabies and Boks entered the match relieved they weren’t facing the All Blacks again. It’s been a while since the Aussies have won in Bloemfontein and a win would take an improved performance from the last time these teams played a few weeks ago. In the end the teams would play out yet another draw, following their one in Perth. It was a fantastic test match with some heroic performances by both teams.
The 1st Half:
It was a strong start for the Boks has they held on to the ball for the first two mins and nine phases from the kick off, making plenty of territory but more impressively maintaining possession. It was clear that altitude was having a big factor on the kicking game early – even Bernard Foley’s kicks going 50m plus.
Despite the Springbok possession advantage, the first try of the game went to the Wallabies from a scrum inside the 22m, which wasn’t the most solid. Will Genia passed to Foley who sent it back on the inside to Izzy Folau to score his 11th try of the year – a new wallaby record. 7-0
The Boks had a clear game plan to take it wide but the Wallaby defense covered well with Koroibete defending well on the flank, Reece Hodge doing a lot in the middle and Sean McMahon very busy.
Back to back penalties against the Aussies saw the Boks put the pressure on. Both times they turned down shots for goal to look for a try of their own. While the Aussies defended the lineout well, the Boks picked and they drove and they recycled and eventually they scored through through their tight head prop, Ruan Dreyer. 7-7
Pretty much from the kick-off the Boks went on the attack again as the Wallabies opened up. As happens so often it was only a Michael Hooper turnover and forced penalty that saved the day.
The visitors hit the lead soon after when Bernard Foley kicked a penalty following a high tackle. 10-7.
When Jack Dempsey was penalised not longer after, for a questionable deliberate knock down, the Boks drew level. 10 all.
Again it looked like the Boks could score as they offloaded well, but a brilliantly timed Beale intercept enabled an Aussie counter with Genia finding space and kicking ahead for Izzy. Folau couldn’t match Courtnall Skosan on the chase and a 22m drop out was forced. The pressure was there though and a Boks collapsed scrum in front of the posts followed and allowed Foley a chance to extend the lead further. 13-10
Folau was in the game again, but this time he was penalised for a high tackle (actually grabbing Dillyn Leyds by his top knot). It was a deserved penalty but one that could have easily have been reversed as Eben Etzebeth overreacted ridiculously in chasing down Folau.
From the resulting lineout, another penalty was awarded for tackling the man in the air at the lineout. The Boks were looking to score a try in the shadows of half time but the throw was long, the Aussies recovered and Hodge kicked for the first time all match.
At the break the Wallabies could be happy given the Boks dominated possession, the Aussies had looked more dangerous and defended very well against some pretty average Bok attack. Could they sustain it in the 2nd half with lungs burning?
The 2nd Half:
The ineffective Bok attack int the first half finally clicked in the second when Jan Serfontein crossed early. It came from space found out wide as Hodge held off a tackle and Kurtley Beale was bumped off by Siya Kolisi. Kolisi found Leyds out wide who threw it back to Jan to score the try and the Boks took the lead, 13-17.
The Aussies bounced back soon after when Bernard Foley made a great break, through Kolisi, on the back of a powerful Sio run. Foley was able to thread a beautiful pass to Koroibete to run and score in his run on debut. 20-17
But the Wallabies became complacent as the Boks again scored. The Wallabies softened in defense leading to a somewhat soft try to Courtnall Skosan. 20-24
The Aussies were being run ragged as the Boks raised their intensity in attack with their off-loading causing real problems for the Aussies.
The Wallabies were able to hold them on and regain their composure after the manic start to the half. They fought their way down the field and from a lineout began to attack the Bok line. They drew a penalty advantage where Genia and Beale too the ball wide for Koroibete to score his 2nd . 27-24
Lukhan Tui came on for his test debut as replacements were brought on by both coaches. Starting players were clearly feeling the effect of altitude and the high pace of the game.
So fast was it that the Boks finally relented and took a shot at goal from about 50m out, with the angle. The kick was good by Jantjies and the score was equal again with 10 minutes to go.
As players struggled to keep up with play Beale looked to have made the most of it with a brilliant counter attack only to struggle to find support. It eventually came through Moore and Genia went wide to Foley who found an exhausted Sean McMahon who looked away but was brought down from behind and dropped the ball.
Then it was South Africa’s turn to attack and, again, they looked away only for Koroibete to put in a tremendous tackle. Unfortunately he was penalised for what could have been a number of reasons but regardless it resulted in Jantjies having a shot from 5m from the sideline with minutes to go, to win the game. A clearly exhausted Jantjies sent the ball wide and it was game on for the last two minutes.
McMahon chased the 22m kick strongly, but it was Hooper who put in a massive tackle and turnover which gave Australia one last chance. They spread the pill and a charge up field by Allan Alaalatoa looked to give Australia an outside chance, but a fumble at the ruck base by Nick Phipps gave the ball back to the Boks. They tried to run it out but dual knock ons soon would seal the match and the 2nd draw between these two sides this season.
The Game Changer
No stand out here as it was a draw but the 2nd half start by the Boks certainly raised the intensity of the game.
The G&GR MOTM
Sean McMahon and Michael Hooper were brilliant for the Wallabies, but I will give it to Hooper for his ability to bring out the big plays when needed. The guy is a freak.
Koroibete had a fantastic starting debut with two well taken tries and some excellent defense. He may have been caught out a couple of times, but he made a strong case for a regular starting spot. Reece Hodge had probably his best game of the year with Tatau Polotau-Nau very busy. It must be noted that Ned Hanigan was excellent from the bench. The Boks were well served by both dangerous centres, Jan Serfontein, and Jesse Kriel, as well as their flanker Francois Louw.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Israel Folau (11th),Marika Koroibete (46th, 57th)
Conversions: Bernard Foley (12th, 47th, 58th)
Penalties: Bernard Foley (23rd, 34th,)
Tries: Ruan Dreyer (18th), Jan Serfontein (43rd), Courtnall Skosan (49th)
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (19th, 44th, 50th)
Penalties: Elton Jantjies (26th, 70th)