De Villiers faces fresh scrutiny after Wallaby loss

South Africa 39 Australia 41
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The Independent Online

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers' job is safe for now, although the South African Rugby Union (SARU) will review his side's poor run of form and some of his controversial comments later this month.

The defending champions South Africa lost their fifth match out of six in this year's Tri-Nations on Saturday, a 41-39 defeat by Australia fuelling media speculation that De Villiers would be sacked.

"All rugby followers are extremely disappointed with results in the Tri-Nations, as are the Springbok team and management, of course," said the SARU president, Oregan Hoskins, in a statement yesterday. "We take the situation very seriously but there is a process in place and we will follow that through."

He added that the Springboks' poor Tri-Nations performance would be subject to an annual review, "as per normal", with De Villiers later this month.

De Villiers, whose three-year tenure has featured several fiery tirades, has found his comments under scrutiny again this week after saying the team fully supported Bees Roux, the Blue Bulls prop accused last week of murdering a policeman.

The Australian hooker Saia Fainga'a has been suspended for two weeks for a dangerous tackle on South Africa's Flip van der Merwe in the 69th minute of the match in Bloemfontein.

Kurtley Beale was the Wallabies' hero, landing a late penalty to break a 47-year drought for the side at South African altitude. The world champions looked dead and buried shortly before half-time when they trailed 31-6 but fought back in emphatic fashion, before Beale sent over a 55-metre kick from the right shortly before ful- time.

Robbie Deans, the Australia coach, said: "This was the most experienced Bok side in history up against a young Wallabies side, so to achieve that landmark [a win on the highveld] is significant."