Planet Rugby

Boks butchered in Sydney

23rd July 2011 10:45

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Digby Ioane wallabies v boks

Lethal on attack: Digby Ioane powers through the frail Springbok defence

Australia opened their 2011 Tri-Nations account with a comprehensive 39-20 victory over South Africa in Sydney on Saturday.

The clinical Wallabies completely destroyed the bumbling Boks with a five-tries-to-two victory that will leave the world champions plenty to ponder ahead of next week's clash with New Zealand.

Wet weather was the forecast but the weatherman got it wrong, which meant an expected tight forward tussle was cancelled out by open rugby that quite literally played into the Wallabies hands as the hosts ran the Springboks ragged.

South Africa struggled to match their opponents on attack - they looked flat and devoid of ideas when in possession, and just lacked the same skill-set as the Wallabies with their ball-in-hand approach.

The woeful Springboks didn't fare any better on defence either as Australia penetrated the visitors' green and gold brick wall with ease in dry conditions that the South Africans simply failed to adapt to.

On the other end of the scale, the Wallabies were in a class of their own - showcasing some brilliant running rugby that left the home crowd begging for more. Everything they touched turned to gold, and if there was any way to respond to last week's shock loss to Samoa - this was certainly it.

The writing was on the wall for South Africa straight from the kick-off at ANZ Stadium, where Australia wasted little time showing their intentions with ball in hand. And after five minutes, one sensed it was going to be a long day at the office for the Springboks.

This was confirmed after the Wallabies struck with two quick-fire tries to Ben Alexander and Digby Ioane in the space of two minutes that left John Smit's troops rattled and forced to play catch-up for the remainder of the match.

It was Reds magician Quade Cooper - fully recovered from Friday's fight with 'flu - who launched the Wallabies' attack for their first score from inside his own 22, stepping inside a host of tacklers to break clear.

Australia's pivot found Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor in support on the right, before the ball was worked to the other end of the pitch where captain Rocky Elsom offloaded to Alexander on his outside for the opening try.

O'Connor, who had a near-flawless night with the boot, added the extras from out wide.

Immediately from the restart, the Boks were at sixes and sevens after scrum-half Will Genia burst clear before releasing Ioane who staved off a poor tackle from Gio Aplon to cross for an unconverted try.

South Africa fly-half Morne Steyn reduced the deficit with a 30th-minute penalty but O'Connor restored the 12-point advantage with a penalty of his own.

Australia's impressive handling was proving too much for the visitors to handle, and only a spilled pass by lock James Horwill prevented another try for Robbie Deans' side.

After the half-time hooter has sounded, Steyn added another penalty to leave the Springboks trailing 15-6 at the break.

With plenty of work to do in the second half, South Africa were back in a huddle under the posts as O'Connor converted his own try set up by Cooper three minutes after the resumption.

South Africa's midfielders Wynand Olivier and Juan de Jongh held off Cooper allowing the unpredictable Wallaby playmaker to spear through a gap and send out a low pass that O'Connor stooped to gather and score.

The game was then effectively killed off as a contest as Australia wrapped up their four-try bonus point after hooker Stephen Moore crossed over besides the posts. The grounding was confirmed by the TMO and converted by O'Connor to make it 29-6.

O'Connor added his second penalty shortly before more skilful offloading from Cooper created the fifth try as his flip pass sent centre Adam Ashley-Cooper into space, with Steyn missing a tackle to let the centre flop over the line.

O'Connor was once again on target with the extras.

The visitors briefly rallied with replacement hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle being bundled over from an effective maul, and then captain Smit burrowed over in the final minute for another consolation score. Both tries were converted by replacement back Patrick Lambie.

The result means Australia keep the Mandela Plate they won last year with their fourth win in five Tests against the Springboks.

Man of the match: To single out just one individual following this dazzling performance by the Wallabies isjust too hard. So we're opting for a team award instead.

Moment of the match: Phew, out of the five Wallabies' tries... take your pick!

Villain of the match: No punch-ups or any cards to speak of. But maybe another team award should go to South Africa, who were their own worst enemy on attack and defence.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Tries: Alexander, Ioane, O'Connor, Moore, Ashley-Cooper
Cons: O'Connor 4
Pens: O'Connor 2

For South Africa:
Tries: Ralepelle, Smit
Cons: Lambie 2
Pens: Steyn 2

Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (c), 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sekope Kepu.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Pekahou Cowan, 18 Nathan Sharpe, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Anthony Fainga'a.

South Africa: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ashley Johnson, 7 Danie Rossouw, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Ryan Kankowski , 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Patrick Lambie.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)

By Dave Morris

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