CAPE TOWN, July 20 (ANA) – South Africa’s Springboks made a winning start to their 2019 Rugby Championship campaign with a 35-17 bonus point victory over visiting Australia at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, on Saturday evening, after leading 14-10 at halftime.
Just when it seemed that the Boks has surrendered the bonus point, replacement scrum-half Cobus Reinach snatched a try in the final minute of the match.
The Boks will be looking to repeat this form next Saturday when they play the world No 1 ranked side New Zealand’s All Blacks in Wellington.
Neither side managed to pick up cohesion at the outset and the Boks even lost an early line out. It was however clear that the teams were happy to run the ball even from deep options.
The match came alive in the 10th minute when Bok No 8 Francois Louw secured a turnover and the ball was relayed out wide to rightwing Sibusiso Nkosi who produced a great turn speed down the touchline.
Just when the cover defense closed in on Nkosi, scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, running a superb support line, was on hand to receive the scoring pass and darted in to dot down under the posts for his debut national team try. His namesake Elton Jantjies added the conversion (7-0).
There was a strong response from the Wallabies as they managed to take the ball through several phases in a penetrative raid into the opposition 22m area where they were awarded a penalty. Flyhalf Bernard Foley was on target with his attempt which reduced the deficit (7-3).
The Wallabies continued to enjoy the best of the momentum shift and they were set to score their opening try after the Boks’ central defense was found wanting. Flank Lukhan Salakaia-Loto ran in almost unchallenged to score next to the posts. However, replays showed a forward pass in the build-up work.
Midway through the half, Bok midfielder André Esterhuizen was yellow-carded for a high tackle but the Boks, undaunted by the setback, went on to score their second try after good work by Herschel Jantjies and flank Pieter-Steph du Toit out wide in the right channels.
Although it looked like the Wallaby defense could stifle the scoring effort, lock Lood de Jager squeezed the ball down on the whitewash through a maze of bodies. Elton Jantjies was on target with the conversion for a 14-3 lead in the 24th minute.
From this point onwards, the visiting Wallabies started imposing themselves spectacularly on the match and shoddy defense allowed rightwing Dane Haylett-Petty to score his side’s try which was converted (14-10).
Soon afterward the Boks defense was again breached on two occasions, but it went unpunished. The best of these scoring chances fell to Haylett-Petty who on one occasion knocked on with the try-line at his mercy.
It was a great let off for the Boks who held out to maintain their 14-10 lead at halftime.
The early second-half play was laced with errors and poor option-taking at a time when teams enjoyed a fair share of possession.
The Wallaby substitute prop Taniela Tupou was yellow-carded for a shoulder charge in the 54th minute and moments later the Boks exploited their numerical advantage when Nkosi dived over for the Boks’ third try, which was converted (21-10).
There was more woe for the visitors when Herschel Jantjies sniped around the fringe of a loose scrum, catching the opposition off guard, and he crashed over at the corner flag just past the hour mark. Elton Jantjies converted brilliantly from the touchline to give the Boks a commanding 28-10 lead.
The Wallabies kept their hopes alive when inspired play by substitute Kurtley Beale sparked a raid downfield and Foley was well up with a play to round off and goal the conversion for a 28-17 scoreline. With this score, the Boks also surrendered a possible try bonus point.
The scoreboard advance brought a fresh sense of intent in the Wallabies’ ranks and the Boks were reduced to a largely defensive role for a while as the match ground to its close.
However, a well-placed touch kick by fullback Warrick Gelant suddenly raised hopes of recovering the lost bonus point and after two 5m line-outs, the Boks made the breakthrough when Reinach snatched a try in the final minute of the match.
Jantjies closed out the scoring with yet another conversion in what was a flawless kicking display (35-17).
Scorers: South Africa 35 (14): Tries: Herschel Jantjies (2), Lood de Jager, Sibusiso Nkosi, Cobus Reinach. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (5)
Australia 17 (10): Tries: 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, Bernard Foley. Conversions: Foley (2). Penalty: Foley
– African News Agency (ANA)