World champions South Africa found their try-scoring touch to beat a disappointing Australia 32-25 at the Subiaco Oval in Perth. The Springboks had scored just four tries in their last four Tests, but turned it on with two tries in the opening 10 minutes and four for the game to earn a bonus point and virtually wrap up the Tri-Nations for 2009. The Wallabies have now lost their last six Tri-Nations matches in their equal-worst run ever, while the Springboks have won their last five. Springbok scrum-half Fourie du Preez was brilliant and clearly outplayed Luke Burgess. Du Preez scored the game's opening try and set up Bryan Habana for his second of the game in the second half in a man-of-the-match performance.
Jaque Fourie scored South Africa's other try, while Matt Giteau scored Australia's first two ? taking his tally to nine in matches against South Africa and past Stirling Mortlock and Breyton Paulse in meetings between the two nations. It was a disastrous error-riddled first half for the Wallabies. Dropped high balls from Richard Brown (two) and Rocky Elsom illustrated the lack of composure. Du Preez got his and South Africa's night off to the perfect start as he made the quick movement from the breakdown after a penalty against Brown. He escaped tackling attempts from Brown, Burgess and Adam Ashley-Cooper to score. Steyn converted for the early 7-0 lead. It was 12-0 five minutes later when outside centre Fourie strolled through the Wallabies' backline with no resistance.
After Giteau missed the first of his four penalty attempts in the first half, Steyn showed him how it was done after Ben Alexander was penalised for collapsing the scrum. The Wallabies finally scored after 28 minutes when Giteau converted a penalty. It was not the start of an Australian comeback, though, as Habana made it three first-half tries for the Springboks. It again came from an Australian mistake when Turner fumbled a high ball following pressure from Jean de Villiers. Habana pounced and cruised to the line in top gear. When Steyn converted the Springboks led 22-3 and not even a Giteau penalty on the half-time whistle made the score line look better for Australia.
Two minutes into the second half Giteau showed determination to force his way over and when he converted the margin was nine. The Wallabies were building some momentum, but that all ended with a Springboks foray forward. A poor line-out from Australia gave Habana one chance out wide to score which he botched, but he took his next chance a minute later. From a scrum, du Preez laid off a perfect pass to Habana who was at full pace and the try, and with the conversion from Steyn South Africa had an unassailable 29-13 lead.
The Springboks almost went further ahead when JP Pietersen broke on a counterattack, but he pulled a hamstring and had to kick the ball away. The Wallabies closed the gap with just over five minutes to go through Giteau after a superb around-the-back pass from Quade Cooper, and Turner added another on the final whistle. * PA Sport