Australia won an extraordinary Tri-Nations match in Bloemfontein yesterday. The Wallabies, who beat South Africa 41-39, scored five tries to three, gained revenge for last week's 44-31 defeat in Pretoria and secured second place in the tournament table. They will play New Zealand, the runaway winners, in the final match in Sydney next Saturday.
Robbie Deans's Wallabies had collected a try-scoring bonus point by the end of the first half at the Free State Stadium after Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Stephen Moore and the captain, Rocky Elsom, crossed the Springbok line to establish a 31-13 lead. The centre Jaque Fourie scored for South Africa just before the break.
After it, the reigning world and Tri-Nations champions fought their way back into the match. The prop Gurthro Steenkamp and centre Jean de Villiers scored tries and the fly-half Morne Steyn kicked every goal available to him to make it 36-31 to the home side. That became 38-36 to Australia after Drew Mitchell scored his side's fifth try; Steyn kicked his sixth penalty (in a total of 24 points) for 39-38 to South Africa; and finally Beale kicked a penalty to win the match for the Wallabies.
The South Africa head coach, Peter de Villiers, was already under pressure after a poor season and comments about the Bulls prop Bees Roux, who has been charged with murder.