Planet Rugby

Boks strike gold at Newlands

08th August 2009 17:49

Share:

Luke Burgess Heinrich Brussow

Cape Crusader: Heinrich Brüssow hunts down Luke Burgess

South Africa underlined their Tri-Nations intentions with a clinical 29-17 victory over Australia at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

An upset was on the cards after Wallaby full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper crossed for a try in the opening minute of the game.

But the Springboks bounced back in emphatic style, conjuring up a trademark performance of brain and brawn that bore forth 24 points from the metronomic boot of Morné Steyn and a try for old soldier Victor Matfield.

The result represents more than one South African hand on the Tri-Nations trophy, it extinguishes any lingering doubts about South Africa's standing as the world's best team.

They saw off the best of Britain and Ireland, recorded consecutive wins over the All Blacks and have now handed a frisky Australian side a lesson in structured rugby.

Once again the hosts were outscored in the try department - Matt Giteau followed Ashley-Cooper over the whitewash - but what does it matter when you hold such territorial mastery? Not even Cecil Rhodes was this hungry for land.

It's telling to note that all but one of South Africa's 14 penalties were awarded within reasonable range of the gold posts. Of those, Morné Steyn converted seven and Francois Steyn missed another.

By way of contrast, Australia were awarded eight penalties, none of which tickled the fancy of Giteau's left peg.

South Africa's game plan is as simple as it is effective: brutal defence, solid set-pieces, dynamic counter-rucking and, most importantly, field position. It's not the most attractive way to play rugby, but the beauty is that it's almost impossible to trump.

Australia thought the antidote could lie in shaking South Africa out of their structure by playing it fast and loose. It worked well enough in fits and starts, but these Boks are far too experienced to be flustered by a team in its early adolescence.

Ashley-Cooper's early try was, in retrospect, the worst possible start for Australia: it stung like a boot in South Africa's collective backside.

Seething counter-rucking squeezed three quick-fire penalties out of Australia and the locals had nudged ahead by the 13th minute.

Berrick Barnes won back the lead with a smart drop-goal, but a penalty and drop-goal combo from Morné Steyn pulled South Africa clear - and there they remained, without even the briefest look over their shoulders.

With a cushion of points in place, John Smit saw fit to add a little jazz to the Boks' sheet music by dinking through the daintiest of grubbers for the on-rushing Bryan Habana. Lachie Turner managed to get a hand to it, but the bobbling ball was snatched by the giant mitts of Matfield who crashed over for the unlikeliest of tries.

Australia's day then went from bad to worse. Much worse.

In quick succession they lost their captain, Stirling Mortlock, to injury and Giteau and Richard Brown to the sin-bin - the fly-half earning his time for an ugly, airborne challenge on Fourie du Preez; the flank for finally breaking the patience of referee Alain Rolland at the breakdown.

The Boks profited from Brown's misdemeanour via Morné Steyn's boot to leave the game all but out of reach of the visitors at 23-10 at the break.

Australia made a better fist of the second period. The rust that ruined their passing game in the first half fell away (what kind of tournament allows a side to sit around for three weeks after their opening game?) and they began to play their rugby in South Africa's half.

Whilst Australia's line-out was nothing short of abysmal, the gold scrum held up surprisingly well and they were even able to repel a five-metre scrum on their own line.

But they were, again, powerless to prevent Morné Steyn from sending over his sixth penalty as the game ticked towards the hour mark.

A sublime break from young James O'Connor, on for Mortlock, put Australia within striking distance of the green line and Giteau finally knifed through to score his side's second try.

But it was too little too late, and Morné Steyn - who else? - drilled home that very point by landing his seventh penalty of the afternoon at the death. It doesn't get more ruthless than that.

Man of the match: Schalk who? Morné Steyn deserves praise for his work, but he is afforded an armchair ride by his forwards, and the man winning him the lion's share of kickable penalties was Heinrich Brüssow. We have suspected it for a while but it is now official: the Boks have unearthed a flawless diamond.

Moment of the match: Surely Victor Matfield's try - or rather John Smit's outrageous grubber! The frustrated fly-half deserves to be heavily fined for behaviour that would surely have caused self-respecting props to weep shameful tears on to their meat pies. Let's hope big Bakkies Botha also answers to the name 'Enforcer' in the bar.

Villian of the match: No debate here. Matt Giteau can expect a visit from the citing officer for his reckless, elbow-first 'challenge' on the airborne Fourie du Preez.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Try: Matfield
Pens: M Steyn 7
Drop: M Steyn

For Australia:
Tries: Ashley-Cooper, Giteau
Con: Giteau 2
Drop: Barnes

Yellow card(s): Giteau (Australia) - body-check, 34; Brown (Australia) - off-side, 35; Smith (Australia) - hands in the ruck, 78.

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Adi Jacobs.

Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 George Smith, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 David Pocock, 20 Will Genia, 21 Peter Hynes, 22 James O'Connor.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Tim Hayes (Wales)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

By Andy Jackson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh vs Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Preview
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Grenoble vs London Irish18:30
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs Lions17:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs Tasman19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615