x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Rugby Championship: Australia win marred by latest curse victim

Australia finally record win with 26-19 victory over South Africa, but suffer blow as Will Genia is latest captain to be crocked.

South Africa’s  Willem Alberts, centre, is tackled by Australia’s Michael Hooper, top, and Stephen Moore during their Rugby Championship Test match in Perth yesterday.
South Africa’s Willem Alberts, centre, is tackled by Australia’s Michael Hooper, top, and Stephen Moore during their Rugby Championship Test match in Perth yesterday.

PERTH // Australia's captain's curse struck again yesterday when Will Genia became the third holder of the post to be injured this season when he hurt his knee in the 26-19 win over South Africa.

The inspirational Scrum-half came off the field 10 minutes from the end of the match in Perth, which gave Australia their first victory in the inaugural Rugby Championship after they began their campaign with successive defeats to New Zealand.

Genia will be keen to avoid joining his predecessors, lock James Horwill (hamstring) and openside flanker David Pocock (knee), in being ruled out of the competition because of injury.

"I took a high ball and twisted and heard a few cracks," Genia, on crutches with ice on the injured joint, said in a pitchside interview at the Subiaco Oval.

"It's actually quite sore so I'll have some scans and see what comes of it."

Robbie Deans, the Australia coach, had come under pressure after the losses to the All Blacks, particularly the 22-0 defeat at Eden Park two weeks ago that saw the Wallabies shutout for the first time in 50 years against their trans-Tasman rivals.

Deans was happy with the scrappy victory, but he was frustrated by his backs kicking away good possession in the first half with what he described as "silly" grubber kicks.

"We've talked about it, but the habit's still there, and it makes it so hard for ourselves," he said.

It was replacement loose forward Scott Higginbotham who inspired the comeback victory, however, scoring with a rampaging charge up the middle just two minutes after coming on.

"The blokes who came off the bench did really well and in a testy situation," Deans said. "They showed good composure and that's all you can ask really."

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer had injury worries of his own after prolific winger Bryan Habana limped off early in the second half, albeit after having scored his 42nd test try.

There was more bad news after the match when lock Eben Etzebeth was cited for a butt on opposite number Nathan Sharpe.

Jean de Villiers, the South Africa captain, said there was much to be positive about.

"We are not doubting the team at all," he said. "We know we're on the right track, but it's just learning from our mistakes and definitely the only way you will get experience is by playing."

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