Wallabies stay out in front

Australia 14 South Africa 14
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The Independent Online

South Africa survived the second-half loss of two players to the sin-bin to earn a 14-14 draw with Australia in an uncompromising Tri-Nations Test in Perth yesterday. It was the first draw since the tournament began and left the Wallabies on top of the table with seven points, one more than South Africa and three ahead of New Zealand who have played one fewer match.

The Springboks lost first their fly-half Butch James for a dangerous tackle and then their captain Bobby Skinstad for using his hands in a ruck under his own posts during a tense, defence-orientated encounter.

South Africa held the lead throughout the second half after a try just a minute before the interval by their veteran lock Mark Andrews who wriggled over in the right-hand corner to break a deadlock in which the only scores had been a penalty apiece.

The Springboks held on to the lead until nine minutes before the end and, admirably, did not concede any points while James was off the field. Two minutes after his return in the 65th minute, though, Skinstad was sin-binned, allowing the Australian full-back Matt Burke to kick a penalty and reduce the deficit to 6-8 with 13 minutes remaining.

Braam van Straaten stretched the visitors' lead to five points with his second penalty shortly afterwards, but the Wallabies centre Nathan Grey powered over from close range after the 14-man Springbok defence had been scattered by a succession of drives. Burke could not convert and the scores remained locked at 11-11.

Van Straaten slotted home his third penalty with five minutes left only for Burke to reply with his third successful kick from close range.

Australia: M Burke; C Latham (G Bond, 65), D Herbert, N Grey, J Roff; S Larkham, G Gregan; N Stiles, M Foley, R Moore (B Darwin, 60), J Harrison (M Cockbain, 62), J Eales (capt), O Finnegan, G Smith (P Waugh, 55), T Kefu.

South Africa:- C Jantjes; B Paulse, R Fleck (D Kayser, 22), B van Straaten, D Hall; B James, J van der Westhuizen; R Kempson (O Le Roux, 61), L van Biljon (J Smit, 65), C Visagie, V Matfield, M Andrews (A van den Berg, 61), A Vos, A Venter, B Skinstad (capt).