Springboks v Wallabies: Five memorable Tests between South Africa and Australia

Will Genia of Australia during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Will Genia of Australia during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Image: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

The Springboks and Australia have thrown up some classic contests in South Africa over the years. We relive five of the best on South African soil in the post-isolation era.

5. South Africa 44 Australia 31 (Loftus Versfeld‚ 2010)

The match marked lock Victor Matfield’s 100th Test match and for a little while it looked as if the Wallabies would ruin the party.

Australia ran into a 14-0 lead inside five minutes after tries from Will Genia and James O’Connor rocked the home team.

The Boks rallied in a see-saw battle and after scoring four tries‚ they weren’t out of the woods.

Leading 37-31 and under heavy Aussie pressure with 10 minutes to play‚ Matfield marked his special day by stealing a Wallaby lineout ball close to the Bok line.

It snuffed out the attack and ended their realistic chance of a first win on the highveld since 1963.

Bok wing JP Pietersen scored with a minute to go to ensure a dramatic win.

4. South Africa 39 Australia 41 (Vodacom Park‚ 2010)

The Wallabies only had to wait one week to end a 47-year winless streak on the highveld following the disappointment in Pretoria seven days earlier.

How the match ended in such drama is testament to the Boks’ willingness to fight after they were staggered as Australia ran into a 31-6 lead.

Despite the huge deficit it was the Wallabies that looked beaten as the game entered the final minute.

A 77th minute Morné Steyn penalty gave the Boks a 39-38 lead and with the chance of victory flickering‚ Australia won a penalty four metres inside SA’s half and seven metres in from touch.

Fullback Kurtley Beale held his nerve and landed the killer blow with his only kick of the game.

3. South Africa 22 Australia 19 (Newlands‚ 2007)

The Springboks gave a glimpse of the future on a sunny Cape Town day as 20-year-old sensation Frans Steyn landed two long-range drop goals to seal a dramatic Bok win.

The tight scoreline was testament to obstinate Wallaby defence in the face of relentless Bok pressure.

It seemed that the commitment of Australia’s tackling‚ with back rowers George Smith and Rocky Elsom setting the tone‚ had done enough to win the day.

But enter Steyn for the final 19 minutes.

With six minutes to play‚ Steyn struck a drop-goal from near the Wallaby touchline and only a few metres inside their half and the ball sailed through the uprights to level the scores.

With two minutes to play‚ the Bok pack worked Steyn into drop-goal position just outside the Wallaby 22 and the youngster nervelessly landed his second drop to seal the deserved win.

2. South Africa 33 Australia 31 (Ellis Park‚ 2002)

Another dramatic last-gasp win for the Boks came courtesy of a fullback Werner Greeff’s try and conversion after the final hooter.

In a tough period for Bok rugby‚ it seemed that they had forgotten how to win after three consecutive Tri-Nations losses.

Even after running into a 26-9 lead thanks to two tries from wing Breyton Paulse‚ flyhalf Brent Russell (a late replacement for Andre Pretorius) and No 8 Joe van Niekerk‚ the Boks appeared jittery.

The Wallabies roared back through tries from Brendon Cannon‚ Toutai Kefu and Mat Rogers.

The Boks were further hampered when centre Marius Joubert was red-carded for a high tackle on Rogers in the 70th minute.

But the home team had the final say when Greeff ghosted onto a Bolla Conradie pass 20 metres out after the Boks had taken the ball through six phases to level the scores.

Greeff then coolly slotted the conversion as the Boks won back the Mandela Plate.

1. South Africa 27 Australia 18 (Newlands‚ RWC 1995)

In many ways this was the forgotten game of the Boks’ successful 1995 World Cup run‚ but it was critical.

The Wallabies were the defending world champions and were overwhelming favourites to brush a callow Bok team aside.

For a while the script when to plan for Australia when Wallaby flyhalf Michael Lynagh scored a try which he also converted as well as landing two penalties inside the first half hour.

SA only had three Joel Stransky penalties to show‚ but the match swung on a moment of brilliance.

Andre Joubert and the James’s – Small and Dalton – counterattacked down the right touchline before the ball was worked left where Small again popped up to give the final pass to wing Pieter Hendriks.

The flyer skinned legendary David Campese on the outside to take the Boks into a crucial 14-13 halftime lead.

After the break Stransky took control‚ landing a penalty‚ a drop-kick and scoring a try to ensure that the Boks were on the high road to World Cup success.

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