Australia 49 South Africa 0: Giteau leads rout of the Boks

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The Independent Online

South African rugby is in crisis after one of the worst humiliations in its history.

A thrashing of this degree by an Australian side dismantled by New Zealand last week represents something far worse than just their heaviest Tri-Nations defeat. The ultimate humiliation must be that the Springboks succumbed without a fight. They offered no resistance, no fury.

For a Springbok side to be crushed by a six-try margin was bad enough. But for it to be achieved without a fierce South African will to take some of their conquerors down with them was unforgivable. The malaise is symptomatic of the present state of South African rugby, which is supposed to be celebrating its centenary.

Australia had improved significantly from their defeat in Christchurch, yet they still missed at least three tries. Their backs won them the game with clever running lines and subtle angles of attack. Their fly-half, Stephen Larkham, masterminded the performance with an outstanding display.

The Wallaby runners poured through gaps opened by a combination of reverse passes, miss-passes and short passes to players on the ball carrier's shoulder. They offloaded the ball in the tackle to ensure continuity and the Boks looked utterly incapable of matching them. The limitations of their rush defence were exposed in a flurry of missed tackles.

The home hooker Jeremy Paul scored Australia's first try from a driven line-out after 16 minutes. That followed Larkham's 42-metre drop goal and was followed in its turn by a try from the prop Greg Holmes after Larkham had cut the defencewith a wonderfully angled run after a line-out. Stirling Mortlock's two conversions and a penalty opened a 20-0 lead after just 25 minutes. The centre Matt Giteau again ripped open the defence three minutes before half-time with a clever run, making it 30-0 at the break.

Only missed chances prevented a similar haul in the second half. Latham exposed poor defence from a Larkham cross-kick to score the fourth try, Giteau picked up a chip ahead for the fifth and Mark Chisholm was on hand for the sixth after a quick line-out throw.

Australia: C Latham; M Gerrard (C Rathbone, 62), S Mortlock, M Giteau (M Rogers, 67), L Tuqiri; S Larkham, G Gregan (capt; S Cordingley, 40); G Holmes (A Baxter, 62), J Paul (S Hardman, 51), G Shepherdson, N Sharpe, D Vickerman (M Chisholm, 40), R Elsom, S Fava, G Smith (P Waugh, 65).

South Africa: P Montgomery (M Bosman, 60); A Ndungane (B Paulse, 55), J Fourie, W Olivier, B Habana; J van der Westhuyzen, E Januarie (F du Preez, 56); O du Randt (E Andrews, 46), J Smit (capt; D Coetzee, 66), CJ van der Linde, V Matfield, D Rossouw (A van den Berg, 38), J van Niekerk (J Cronje, 65), P Spies, J Smith (Cronje, 11-20).

Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand).