Reeling from two Bledisloe Cup defeats against the All Blacks, the Wallabies were looking to secure their first Rugby Championship victory of the season against the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium. Guided by Ewen McKenzie, the expectations were high.
Unfortunately, the maiden win became nothing but a far-fetched thought.
In a one-sided affair, the Springboks outscored the Wallabies four tries to none, ending their seven-Test losing streak at Suncorp Stadium. Making the victory more impressive was South Africa’s last triumph in Brisbane was a 18-6 win in 1971, 42-years ago. The win also catapulted the Boks into top spot in the Rugby Championships.
As for Ewen McKenzie and his men, it’s back to the drawing board to regroup and re-organise for next week’s match against Argentina in Perth. Meanwhile at the top of the table, the Springboks and the All Blacks battle it out at Eden Park.
So what exactly went wrong for the Wallabies?
In my opinion, a large part of the Springboks success has to be attributed to their work at the breakdown. Their physicality at the rucks meant the Wallabies had to commit more players, causing their defensive line to thin out. The Springbok forwards dominated throughout the match; they constantly put their side on the front foot.
For their efforts, the Springboks were rewarded with twice as many turnovers, thus grabbing four tries via gaping holes in Australia’s defence. South African kicker Morne Steyn added three conversions and four penalties, giving the Springboks their biggest win in Australia since 2009.
In the sixth minute, replacement forward Coenie Oostuizen came onto the field as a blood bin substitution and unexpectedly made a telling contribution, surging through three men for the Springboks first try of the match.
At half time, South Africa was leading 16-6. The floodgates opened in the second half, with Springboks piled on three tries in eight minutes.
The South African set pieces were well structured and well rehearsed, which was in stark contrast to the disjointed and often messy plays that the Wallabies produced. The latter did create some impressive line breaks and set pieces, however they failed to capitalise on those runs, repeatedly wasting their chances by committing schoolboy mistakes; such as failing to recycle possession and playing at the ball illegally in rucks.
Despite being handed the starting five-eighth position, Australian playmaker Quade Cooper was noticeably subdued, not producing the fanciful plays he is known for. One cannot blame Cooper for this, the Australian forward pack never gained any ascendancy, which would have given the talented Australia backs more room to move.
Player discipline was a prominent issue, with two players being yellow-carded. The first was in the eighth minute, when South African lock Willem Alberts was penalised for kicking the ball away after a deliberate knock down; this was a horrible decision. The second yellow card was shown to Australian Michael Hooper, for a dangerous lifting tackle on winger Bryan Habana. Scuffles between both sides also occurred throughout the match, prompting Irish referee George Clancy to remind both captains to talk to their teams at half time.
The Springboks deserved their win and it will give them the confidence they need heading over to Eden Park next week. As for the Wallabies, basics ball-handling drills should be at the forefront of their training over the coming days. They need to remember the basic principles of rugby as they attempt to revive what has been a disappointing winter.
Will Ewen McKenzie find his first win as Wallabies coach in Perth next week?
Lets hope so.