Australia were so utterly hopeless here that questions must be asked as to why their game had completely disintegrated from just one week earlier. Did their coach, Robbie Deans, put out a side featuring five changes from the team who had beaten South Africa in Durban knowing that the outcome of this year's Tri-Nations title would not be settledhere, whatever the result?
The title was always going to rest on what happens when the All Blacks go to Brisbane on Saturday week. So did Deans thus rest key players? How else, in the end, could you explain so ridiculously lopsided a match?
Australia, riddled with errors, indecision and inaccuracies, were yards slower than South Africa in thought and deed. They looked leaden-footed and lacking in desire. For sure, the Springboks at last resembled a proper Test side. But more explanations than that are required to unravel this strange plot.
From the South African point of view, this game proved that rugby is a simple game when your tactical play is right on the money and the opposition go out with a death wish.
By the end of the first 40 minutes the match was over, with the Springboks leading 27-3. The Wallabies' line-out was a shambles, their attempts to counter- attack were ludicrously ambitious and downright dangerous, and they left gaping holes in their defence all over the field.
When an opposition wing glides over for touchdowns, virtually unopposed, three times in the opening 36 minutes, something is seriously wrong. In fact, the Springbok wing Jongi Nokwe scored four tries in the first 49 minutes, before he was forced off by a leg injury which he suffered in the act of touching down his last five-pointer.
Australia were put to the sword in an astonishingly effective manner as the Spring-boks, enjoying a plethora of possession, at last showed that they had mastered some of the basicsof the modern game. South Africa's tactical kicking, which for the most part has been abysmal in this Tri-Nations campaign, was unrecognisable from earlier games. Butch James, the fly-half, put his team where they wanted to play with a series of long, raking downfield kicks which, this time, hada purpose.
But, more than that, South Africa at last showed that they had grasped the need to offload in the tackle, and not keep dying with the ball when on the attack. It made them so much more effective as an attacking outfit and it meant that they could punish Australia's ragged play to the utmost.
Australia were not only shocking in defence – they were almost as poor in attack. Peter Hynes and Lote Tuqiri somehow mucked up an easy scoring chance down the left before half-time, and it was a turning point. With South Africa ahead 12-3 at the time, a try for the visitors would almost certainly have got them back to 12-10, and after that it could have been a different game.
The lock Andries Bekker opened the eight-try glut when his full-back, Conrad Jantjes, put him through a gap after just nine minutes. A simple overlap then gave Nokwe his first try and he got another 12 minutes later in the same corner, after a shockingline-out throw by the Australians. James kicked a penalty and then converted Nokwe's third try after the centre Jean de Villiers had driven close to the line.
In the second half, De Villiers opened up the defence again to send his fellow centre, Adi Jacobs, racing over; Nokwe got his fourth try; the substitute Ruan Pienaar sidestepped his way to the posts; and Odwa Ndungane scored the eighth try. The substitute Drew Mitchell answered with a solitary unconverted try for the Wallabies.
After the match, Percy Montgomery, capped 102 times for South Africa, announced his international retirement.
"For me, every time I put on the Springbok jersey was a high," the full-back said. "I have had many memorable moments and am pleased to have played against so many great players in so many different countries."Reuse content