Rugby Union: Springboks `will recover'

Australia 32 South Africa 6
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The Independent Online
THE AUSTRALIA coach, Rod Macqueen, has warned that South Africa will regroup in time for the defence of their World Cup crown despite slumping to a second defeat in the Tri-Nations series.

The Springboks followed up a 28-0 defeat by New Zealand with a 32-6 record reverse at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane with the World Cup less than three months away.

To make matters worse, the experienced centre Pieter Muller limped off with serious knee damage after 11 minutes and will miss the World Cup.

Japie Mulder, Andre Vos, Gary Teichmann, Corne Krige, Ollie le Roux and Mark Andrews have all gone down with injuries in the past fortnight. And their coach, Nick Mallett, has also had to go into battle without his first-choice half-backs Joost van der Westhuizen and Henry Honiball and loose forward Bobby Skinstad.

But Macqueen, who led Australia to a record-equalling 10th successive victory, said it was crucial not to read too much into the Springboks' dismal fortnight. "Last week against New Zealand their halves struggled. In this game they were more organised in attack, but had a few injuries," Macqueen said. "But I'm a great believer that things come around. It's still a long way to the World Cup and they'll be a totally different proposition then."

Mallett admitted the team, beaten by England, Wales, New Zealand and Australia in the last six Tests with just two wins over minnows Italy, lacks depth. "We were out-thought, particularly in the back line, and they got much quicker ball than us. We played far more rugby in this Test than we did against New Zealand but we still don't have much to show for it in the end. This shows that with an inexperienced team, injuries, youngsters and players out of position you are on a hiding to nothing in the Tri- Nations," Mallett said.

Wing Joe Roff scored two tries as Australia ran their opponents ragged. Their next assignment promises to be tougher, a meeting with New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday with the match likely to determine the early favourites for the World Cup. "Some guys here haven't beaten the Springboks before," Horan said. "But tomorrow we have to start thinking about the All Blacks. There's still a few things to work on."

Australia: Tries Roff 2, Horan, Burke; Conversions Burke 3; Penalties Burke 2. South Africa: Penalties: Van Straaten 2.

South Africa: Montgomery; Paulse (Rossouw, 60), Fleck (Von Hoesslin, 65), Muller (Kayser 11), Terblanche; Van Straaten, Swanepoel; Du Randt (Le Roux, 49, Meyer, 63), Drotske, Visagie, Boome, Otto, Erasmus (capt), Venter, Leonard.

Australia: Burke; Tune, Herbert, Grey, Roff; Horan, Gregan; Crowley, Paul (Kearns 76), Noriega, Giffin, Welborn, Cockbain Connors, 60), Wilson (capt), Kefu (Strauss, 49).

Referee: P O'Brien (New Zealand).

Attendance: 31,677.