Out-muscled and out-thought, Ewen McKenzie's Wallabies sunk to another dismal loss by 28-8 against a rampant South Africa.
Out-muscled and out-thought, Ewen McKenzie's Wallabies sunk to another dismal loss by 28-8 against a rampant South Africa on Saturday.
The humbling of a half-time team-talk on the field in front of a gleeful Newlands crowd underlined how far Australia have fallen – McKenzie overseeing his fourth loss since taking over as head coach.
The former Reds boss has spoken frequently after recent losses about the need for a better execution from his defence, but in a three-minute blip the game was lost as first Adriaan Strauss and Zane Kirchner found their way to the line.
Certainly the Wallabies tightened up their game in the second-half, their public dressing down adding some resolve as Will Genia made a bright introduction off the bench.
This though was South Africa's day, and by some distance. Jannie du Plessis and MornÃ© Steyn both celebrated their 50th caps with accomplished performances.
The brute power from the South African starting pack was dominant enough early on to create the gulf on the scoreboard, before the bulk of Bismarck du Plessis and JuandrÃ© Kruger were rolled out later on. That level of physicality will be essential next weekend when South Africa take on New Zealand.
The Springboks put their own torment in Auckland behind them by carrying on from where they left off in Brisbane – proving too clever and too powerful for the Wallabies in a tearaway first half when the score could have been even greater than the 23-3 lead they held going into the break.
The pre-match touting of South Africa's scrum as a key weapon rung true after only three minutes, when Steyn opted for the corner after James Slipper was beaten by Du Plessis.
A crossing penalty against the Boks brought Australia out of their half and yielded the first points for Lealiifano, converting a penalty from the left to give the visitors the lead.
Steyn countered with a penalty after Wallaby captain James Horwill was penalised for not rolling away – the Stade FranÃ§ais fly-half reaching the 600-point mark in Test rugby.
Eben Etzebeth's burst then created the platform for South Africa's first try, the Wallabies infringing to set up an attacking lineout in the corner for the hosts. Fourie du Preez – back in the side in place of Ruan Pienaar – fired a flat pass through to the other change to the Springboks, Adriaan Strauss, who crashed over.
The Boks followed it up with a sucker punch. Jean de Villiers' wide pass freed up JJ Englebrecht and the young Bulls centre sucked in the remaining Wallaby defenders to free Zane Kirchner, who scythed his way past Israel Folau to score South Africa's second try in as many minutes.
Steyn's second penalty on the 20-minute mark then meant South Africa had scored as many points as minutes passed.
Michael Hooper's sin-binning further complicated the Wallabies afternoon after he upended Eben Etzebeth – Australia barely surviving with a full compliment, let alone with a depleted side.
A third penalty from Steyn extended the Springboks' lead to 20 points as they ran Australia ragged, an unfortunate slip for de Villiers cutting out another dangerous break with the Wallabies winning a penalty at the breakdown.
No stranger to discrepancies, Flip van der Merwe saw yellow at the start of the second half for an unnecessary forearm on Joe Tomane to give the Wallabies some momentary respite, at least when it came to numbers on the park if not the scoreboard.
Through a combination of South Africa dropping their intensity and the Wallabies building confidence, the third quarter finished scoreless with the Springboks comfortably adrift.
It was an impressive showing of persistence from Australia attacking in the South African 22 that saw Duane Vermeulen also yellow carded, but when the Wallabies needed to execute deep in South African territory they were once again found wanting.
South Africa were slack themselves – dropping passes and missing the intensity that served them so well in the opening 40 as the clock wound down. A persistent choice to kick the ball away rather than run from deep, in spite of their lead, gradually frustrated the Capetonian crowd.
They duly erupted when Willie Le Roux beat Chris Feauai-Sautia on the outside to cross in the right-hand corner, the lead stretching to 25 points and restoring order to proceedings.
With a try bonus-point in sight, the Springboks botched a five-metre lineout and then Siya Kolisi was penalised for holding on short of the Wallaby line. Should New Zealand go on to take maximum points against Argentina later on in La Plata, the missed chances will come back to haunt them.
Feauai-Sautia did seal a consolation try from a clever Cooper cross-field kick, but it meant little. Australia, at their lowest, have their own mountain to climb – one considerably larger than the Table looming over Newlands.
Man of the Match: Welcome back Fourie du Preez. The Suntory Goliath scrum-half was at his vintage best.
Moment of the Match: The second blow in a one-two punch from Zane Kirchner has the Springboks out of sight.
Villain of the Match: Forearms are a hot topic after Ma'a Nonu's two weeks ago. Flip Van Der Merwe's on Tomane was careless.
For South Africa:
Tries: Strauss, Kirchner, Le Roux
Con: Steyn 2
Pen: Steyn 3
Yellow: Van der Merwe (39 mins), Vermuelen (66 mins)
Yellow: Hooper (27 mins), Timani (75 mins)
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 GurthrÃ¶ Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 JuandrÃ© Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Chris Feauai-Sautia.
Referee: JÃ©rÃ´me GarcÃ¨s (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Pascal GauzÃ¨re (France)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)
by Ben Coles