x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Wallabies tear up the form book

Australia keep the tournament alive by snapping their six-match Tri Nations losing streak with victory over world champions South Africa.

South Africa have won the World Cup and, by hook or by crook, defeated the British & Lions but their first win in Brisbane since 1971 continues to elude them. Peter de Villiers, the Springbok coach, will be relieved that his side did not suffer a repeat of the 49-0 mauling they suffered at the hands of the Wallabies on their last visit to the Suncorp Stadium, but this result, which completely defied the form book, raises the stakes for their final game against New Zealand on Saturday. Having looked champions-elect in their previous four games, the Boks are now left needing a draw or better from what now looks an awkward date with the All Blacks in Hamilton. "The next game is now a final," said de Villiers. The All Blacks can still win the competition but need two bonus-point victories in the home matches against South Africa and Australia to defend the title. Australia are still likely to finish with the wooden spoon but they managed to avoid the ignominy of suffering a seventh consecutive Tri Nations defeat, much to the relief of coach Robbie Deans. "They had to work hard, didn't drop their heads and got what they deserved," said Deans.

"They had to work hard for it. We had three tries disallowed, but the guys kept coming - that was the most important thing. "I'm proud of the way the boys stuck at it, kept working. Theresult came at the end. We look forward to pushing on from here." George Smith, the Australia captain, was masterful in the back-row once more, winning the fierce breakdown battle with Heinrich Brussow. "We had a collective understanding it was out last game on home soil," said Smith. "We put a lot of work in to get the rewards. "We're young but we had enthusiasm from the first minute. I was impressed with our scrum and line-outs. "We've been improving and slowly building towards good things - this is a great win." John Smit, Smith's opposite number, offered no excuses for his side's surprise defeat. "We won most of our ball but not enough of theirs," he said. "Excuses are for losers and we are losers but we have no excuses. We have one more chance, one more game and we need to make the most of it in Hamilton."

They will certainly need to play better than they did here. Australia led 9-6 at the break, hanging on to the slender lead when a Springboks' try was disallowed right on half time. The Australians were intent on spreading the ball and their ambition got them close twice in three minutes, only to be denied both times by Bryan Habana's try-saving tackles. The Springboks got closest to scoring when Jean de Villiers burst through a gap outside Matt Giteau - exposing a defensive lapse in that space for the second time in the half. He passed infield to midfield partner Jaque Fourie, who was dragged down two metres out and then stripped of possession by James O'Connor. The Springboks crossed on the stroke of half time, but Fourie du Preez' last pass to Brussow was deemed forward. In the second half, the recalled Australian scrum-half Will Genia took a quick tap from 10 metres out rather than a certain three points via a goal. He crossed the line but the video referee ruled that du Preez ripped the ball away before Genia touched down. Giteau had a try disallowed after snatching Adi Jacobs' risky pass deep inside the Springboks territory and burrowed into the right corner. The video referee ruled that he put a foot into touch in Fourie's desperate tackle. There was no doubt about Adam Ashley-Cooper's 63rd-minute try. He ran on to a flat ball from Berrick Barnes on the quarterline and straight into open space to cross untouched. Giteau converted to make it 16-6 and missed a long-range penalty goal before O'Connor sealed it four minutes from time, running 20 metres unopposed to score.

* With agencies