Montgomery holds nerve as Boks stumble across the line

South Africa 22 Australia 16

The Boks just managed to scramble home in Pretoria, chiefly because Percy Montgomery's nerve held. But South African nerves were stretched as taut as piano wire by the end as the Boks fought desperately to hang on to their slender lead.

This was a very different Test match, and much of what happened at Loftus Versfeld yesterday will have concerned the Springbok coach, Jake White. So unconvincing a display must have been far off his radar at the start of this Tri-Nations contest.

The dangers of tinkering with a winning team had been brought home to White in a first half that was very different to the opening 40 minutes last week. The absence of the livewire scrum-half Ricky Januarie and flanker Solly Tyibilika hurt the Boks.

Throughout the game, the Wallabies were able to clean out fast second-phase ball much more efficiently and rapidly, with George Smith and Phil Waugh in harness. South Africa, without Tyibilika, were clearly inferior in this aspect of play whenever the Australians had quality ball going forward.

Januarie was the player who had tormented George Gregan in Johannesburg. Gregan found life altogether more comfortable in the more benign company of Fourie du Preez.

Few Australian sports teams do not react to a thrashing, and the Wallabies were no exceptions to the rule. They had a greater structure, purpose, hunger and cohesion to their game, but they should have capitalised by winning.

It was a close first half, level at 6-6 until right on half-time when the Wallaby flanker Smith scored from close range. The conversion made it 13-6 at the break. Matt Giteau had landed two penalties for the Wallabies, Montgomery one and a drop goal.

South Africa found themselves forced to tackle, cover at full stretch and play far too much of the game going backwards. Twice they were indebted to the wing Breyton Paulse, who saved two Australian tries by covering back.

With half an hour remaining and the Wallabies threatening to increase their lead, White had to do something to try and break the pattern. It was some measure of the Loftus crowd's concerns that they cheered the arrival of Schalk Burger even though the local favourite Jacques Cronje had to make way.

The change worked immediate wonders. The Boks attacked hard down the right and good work by Jaque Fourie and Montgomery put Paulse over for the try. Montgomery's conversion levelled the scores and raised South African voices immeasurably.

Montgomery and Giteau then exchanged further penalties to tie it up at 16-16 before Montgomery got a third goal seven minutes from time, to edge his team in front at 19-16. Finally, Andre Pretorius dropped a goal with the last kick of the match.

South Africa: P Montgomery; B Paulse, J Fourie, J de Villiers, B Habana; A Pretorius, F du Preez (R Januarie, 69); G Steenkamp, J Smit (capt), CJ van der Linde (G Botha, 68), B Botha (A van den Berg, 62), V Matfield, J van Niekerk, J Smith, J Cronje (S Burger, 50).

Australia: C Latham; W Sailor (D Mitchell, 72), M Turinui (S Mortlock, 55), M Giteau, L Tuqiri; S Larkham, G Gregan (capt); B Young, J Paul, M Dunning (A Baxter, 44), D Vickerman (M Chisholm, 71), N Sharpe, G Smith, P Waugh, J Roe (R Elsom, 75).

Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand).

News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Robin van Persie scores the third for Manchester United with a perfectly-guided header
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all