Australia breathed life into their rugby championship campaign with a 30-17 bonus point victory over South Africa to pierce the aura of world champions for the second time in a week.
After upsetting the Springboks 28-26 on the Gold Coast last Sunday with a Quade Cooper penalty after the siren, the Wallabies running game shone in the twilight of Lang Park as center Len Ikitau and winger Marika Koroibete each scored two tries.
Koroibete’s runner-up gave the Australians a 13-point lead with 12 minutes remaining and they defended brilliantly to win two turnovers in front of their posts to protect the lead to the finish.
South Africa had one try, thanks to center Lukhanyo Am shortly after halftime, but pulled two yellow cards in a flat performance before heading to back-to-back testing against New Zealand.
“We’ve talked a lot about coming back to back here. Building a performance is good, but we wanted to start over with these guys, ”said Australian captain Michael Hooper. “We love playing here in front of a crowd… We couldn’t be happier right now.”
Australia move up to third in the world rankings ahead of back-to-back testing against Argentina.
In a choppy start to the game, South African scrum-half Faf de Klerk was shown a yellow card for slowing the ball in a 13th-minute ruck and Ikitau was quick to capitalize with the first try from Australia a minute later. Nic White threw a pass to a charging Ikitau, who beat two defenders in a 10-yard flurry to the line.
Barnstorming mainstay Taniela Tupou then crashed into the South African line, clearing the way for a Koroibete offload which set up Ikitau’s second try in the right corner seven minutes later.
De Klerk’s return after his 10 minutes in the Sin-bin rejuvenated the South Africans as his precise kicks put pressure on the hosts. Wallabies full-back Tom Banks came out squeezing forearm in the 28th minute and flanker Lachie Swinton was yellow carded seven minutes before halftime after a high tackle on No 8 Duane Vermeulen. Pollard was then given a fourth penalty after Australia was taken offside to reduce the lead to 15-12 at the break.
With Swinton still not on the pitch, a kick from De Klerk to the right corner allowed Am to touch the ground and take the lead within two minutes of the restart.
Cooper gave Australia the advantage with his second penalty before Koroibete took control of the game with a flurry of two tries in six minutes. Taking a daring pass from Tupou, Koroibete hit the left wing for the first of his tries in the 62nd minute.
A turnaround by Reece Hodge followed by an offload from Samu Kerevi to Pete Samu resulted in a brilliant attempt to counterattack against Koroibete on the same left wing. Cooper missed the second conversion, but Australia defended solidly to protect the 13-point lead, fending off waves of attacks in their 22 to complete a confidence victory.
Jacques Nienaber then apologized to South African rugby fans, saying the Springboks’ performance was not worthy of the jersey.
“We were really beaten in all departments,” said the South African coach. “We were beaten hands down: defense, kicking, attack. We just made too many mistakes.