Kurt-Lee Arendse hat-trick powers Springboks past hapless Wallabies in Pretoria

David Skippers
Kurt-Lee Arendse SA v Australia RC 2023 - PA.jpg

Springbok flyer Kurt-Lee Arendse evades Wallaby co-captain Michael Hooper to score his second try at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Kurt-Lee Arendse scored a hat-trick of tries as the Springboks cruised to an easy 43-12 bonus-point victory over the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship opener at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

The home side were full value for this win as they held the upper-hand for long periods and eventually outscored their opponents by six tries to two.

Apart from Arendse‘s hat-trick, the Boks were awarded two penalty tries and Pieter-Steph du Toit also crossed the whitewash, while their other points came via the boot of Manie Libbok, who slotted three conversions and a penalty.

For the Wallabies, Marika Koroibete and Carter Gordon scored tries and Gordon also added a conversion.

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As expected, the forward battle proved crucial and the Boks’ pack deserve plenty of credit for laying an excellent platform for their backs – particularly Arendse – who totally outplayed their opponents.

The opening exchanges were cagey, highlighted by plenty of kicking for territory from both sides. The Boks had a chance to open the scoring as early as the third minute when the Wallabies infringed at a breakdown about five metres inside the Boks’ half but Libbok’s long range shot at goal fell just short of the crossbar.

The Wallabies drew first blood, however, when, after winning a turnover at a lineout close to the halfway line, they launched a counter-attack in the eighth minute which caught the home side by surprise.

The ball was shifted wide to Koroibete – with Quade Cooper, Len Ikitau and Tom Wright all handling in the build-up – and he showed the cover defence a clean pair of heels before crossing in the left-hand corner.

Reece Hodge’s conversion attempt was off target and five minutes later Libbok made up for his earlier miss when he slotted a three-pointer off the kicking tee, after Australia strayed offside on defence.

Shortly afterwards, the Boks launched an attack from just inside their half with Andre Esterhuizen, Marco van Staden and Canan Moodie prominent carriers. They soon found themselves deep inside Wallabies territory with Steven Kitshoff and Bongi Mbonambi taking the ball into contact before Esterhuizen offloaded to Arendse, who cantered in for his first try.

On the half hour-mark, the Boks launched a drive just outside the Wallabies’ 10-metre line before Van Staden broke away from the maul before offloading to Mbonambi on his outside. The Bok hooker did well to draw in the last defender before getting a well-timed pass out to Arendse, who crossed for his second try.

Libbok added the extras which meant the home side had their tails up with the score 17-5 in their favour at half-time.

The Boks’ dominance continued after the interval as they made a fiery start to the second half and they spent long periods camped inside Wallabies territory.

In the 51st minute, they were rewarded when they were awarded their first penalty try, after Dave Porecki deliberately collapsed a Bok lineout drive close to his try-line and referee Ben O’Keeffe also sent him to the sin bin for that indiscretion.

With a man down, the Boks were rampant on attack and in the 55th minute, after strong carries from Esterhuizen and Du Toit, Lukhanyo Am offloaded to Arendse, who evaded the attentions of three Wallabies before diving over for his third try.

Despite that score, South Africa did not sck off and continued to launch numerous attacks while the Wallabies continued to concede several soft penalties. A Libbok try was ruled out on the hour-mark, after Du Toit knocked on in the build-up, but in the 68th minute the Boks were awarded another penalty try after Suliasi Vunivalu was penalised for a deliberate knock down close to his try-line – an offence which also saw him being yellow carded.

And in the 75th minute, the hosts took the ball through several phases inside the Wallabies’ 22 before Du Toit rounded off in style. That sealed a comprehensive victory although Wallabies replacement back Gordon crossed for a late consolation try which added some respectability to the final score.

READ MORE: WATCH: Kurt-Lee Arendse scores THREE tries as Springboks cut loose