Coach in danger after thrashing

South Africa 61 Australia 22
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The Independent Online
Australia's worst international defeat has all but done for their coach, Greg Smith. The humiliating defeat in Johannesburg on Saturday means the Wallabies finished last in the Tri-Nations series, carried off convincingly a second time by New Zealand.

Smith, who went into the international under continuing fire following Australia's third defeat to the All Blacks this year, will have given more ammunition for those pushing for Australian Capital Territory's Rod MacQueen to be installed as the next national team coach.

Although Smith has coached the Wallabies to wins over France, England and South Africa - in the home Tri-Nations match - it is the Bledisloe Cup clean sweep and the ignominious 39-point thrashing this weekend which have accentuated Smith's plight.

Smith also oversaw Australia's previous heaviest defeat, 43-6 by New Zealand in Wellington last year. The beleaguered coach has declined to apportion blame for the latest debacle. "We needed a change of tactics late in the game and it didn't happen," he said.

Smith is contracted by the Australian Rugby Union until the end of the Wallabies' tour of Argentina and Britain this autumn, but speculation is mounting that he will be axed when the ARU board meets on Monday week.

The ARU chief executive, John O'Neill, said before the Pretoria international that he could see no reason why Smith would not see out the remainder of the year, but he did not offer guarantees.

"As far as I am aware that meeting is just to review the season rather than to decide on a new coach," Smith added.

David Wilson, standing in as captain for the injured John Eales, defended Smith. "I hope he stays on as coach," he said. "There's a good spirit in the squad at the moment."

Under Smith Australia have won 12 of 19 internationals, but only two have come against southern hemisphere teams - losing all five against New Zealand and two out of four against South Africa.

The South Africans' revenge for the 32-20 loss three weeks ago has relegated Australia to No 3 in unofficial world rankings behind undisputed No 1 New Zealand and the Springboks.

South Africa: Tries Erasmus, Dalton, Andrews, Rossouw, Montgomery 2, Brosnihan, De Beer; Conversions De Beer 6; Penalties De Beer 3.

Australia: Tries Knox, Roff, Little; Conversions Knox 2; Penalty Knox.

SOUTH AFRICA: A Joubert; J Small, P Montgomery, H Honiball, A Snyman (P Rossouw, 28); J de Beer, J van der Westhuizen (W Swanepoel, 80); O du Randt, J Dalton, M Hurter, H Strydom, M Andrews, W Brosnihan, J Erasmus, G Teichmann (capt).

AUSTRALIA: S Larkham; B Tune, J Little, J Holbeck, J Roff; D Knox, G Gregan; R Harry, M Foley, A Blades, O Finegan, J Langford, M Cockbain, D Wilson (capt), T Coker (B Robinson, 60).

Referee: P O'Brien (New Zealand).

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