After a rough few months for the Wallabies they are back in the winner’s circle for the first time since early June with a tough 23-18 victory over the Springboks. The game was far from pretty, with both sides making plenty of errors as new playmaking combinations were trialled, but the Australians’ determination in defence saw them survive a late South African charge to close out a much needed win.
Before the match the Australian squad was thrown into turmoil with the last minute withdrawals of David Pocock, Israel Folau and Adam Coleman. This meant that Pete Samu and Rob Simmons came into the forward pack, while Dane Haylett-Petty moved to fullback with Jack Maddocks coming onto the wing and Tom Banks getting his bench spot.
The game started extremely well for the Wallabies, with new five-eighth Kurtley Beale sparking a break that led to captain Michael Hooper scoring the opening try of the match before the Springboks even saw the ball. The Boks struck back, however, to be leading 18-7 after 30 minutes.
Towards the end of the first half half-time an overthrow from the South African line-out saw Matt Toomua scramble through and score untouched. This was shortly followed by a 55 metre Reece Hodge penalty goal to see the scores stand at 18-17 at the break.
The second half was riddled with errors by both sides, with Toomua’s two penalties for the Wallabies the only points scored. The excitement came in the last 5 minutes, with the Springboks down by 6 points and pressing the Wallabies line. The Australians stood firm, bolstered by super-sub Taniela Tupou’s excellent scrummaging, and an audible sigh of relief went up around Suncorp Stadium when Bernard Foley took an intercept in the 4th minute after full time to send the ball into touch.
It wasn’t a pretty game, which is unsurprising considering the mass changes made by both coaches and the further disruption caused by the mass late-withdrawals by some of the Wallabies star players (Pocock and Folau were injured, while Coleman’s wife went into labour on Saturday afternoon).