Flawless Montgomery homes in as Springboks avenge Sydney setback

South Africa 33 Australia 20
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The Independent Online

The victory also means that the Boks keep their record of never losing a Test match on home soil under current coach Jake White and never losing when playing in front of former State President Nelson Mandela, after whom the Challenge is named. The Boks started well and used their rush defence to rattle the 2003 World Cup finalists so much that they grabbed two intercept tries in the opening 20 minutes.

Throughout, though, they managed to knock the visitors back and stopped the Wallabies from gaining any momentum that would have made them a threat in the match. The Boks' first try came through sustained defence. After stopping three probing runs from the visitors, winger Bryan Habana rushed up and tackled Stephen Larkham backwards.

As the fly-half tried to find a team-mate to pass to he slipped the ball into the hands of Jean de Villiers, who shifted gear and ran 60 metres to score. The Wallabies looked shaken and struggled to regain their composure when Larkham left the field, and Percy Montgomery stretched the lead with a penalty three minutes later.

The Boks managed to read Australia's play again eight minutes later to score their second try. A scissors movement on the hosts' own 22-metre line between Matt Giteau and Stirling Mortlock was supposed to pop the ball inside to Lote Tuqiri. Instead, Bok fly-half Andre Pretorius read the play perfectly, intercepted the ball and ran 40 metres before lobbing the ball inside to Habana, who dived over to put his side 17 points up. When Larkham returned, he provided a lot more stability to the Wallaby backline, who probed up the middle with precision. Five times in succession the Boks were pinned for being offside and all five times the Wallabies chose not to take the easy option of a penalty.

On the fifth occasion, referee Steve Walsh had had enough, and yellow carded Breyton Paulse for being the last to infringe. Then from the ensuing lineout, the Wallabies took the counter shove, then drove their way over with number eight David Lyons burrowing over. Montgomery stretched the lead to 23-8 with another penalty shortly before the break but indiscipline crept into the home side's game just after the interval.

Schalk Burger, on the field for just a minute, earned himself a yellow card for clipping Rocky Elsom in the face in an attempted tackle, although it was more of a reflex action than anything else. Even with 14 men on the field, the Boks managed to break the Australian defence again, with Pretorius running laterally from a scrum and offloading to De Villiers, who broke the line before sending midfield partner Jaque Fourie over for the try. The Wallabies were let off two minutes later, when scrum-half Fourie du Preez lost the ball going over the line after the Wallabies had been caught on the blindside.

South Africa: P Montgomery; B Paulse, J Fourie, J de Villiers (W Julies, 60), B Habana; A Pretorius, R Januarie (F du Preez, 41); G Steenkamp (H Shimange, 78), J Smit (capt), E Andrews (L Sephaka, 78), V Matfield, B Botha (A van den Berg, 70), J Van Niekerk, J Smith, S Tbilika (S Burger, 41).

Australia: C Latham (D Mitchell, 60); W Sailor, S Mortlock, M Giteau (M Turinui, 65), L Tuqiri; S Larkham (Turinui, 14-30), G Gregan (capt; C Whitaker, 73); B Young, J Paul (S Moore, 78), A Baxter, N Sharpe, M Chisholm, (D Vickerman, 45) R Elsom (P Waugh, 42), G Smith,D Lyons.

Referee: S Walsh (New Zealand).