Bok Tri-Nations campaign off to a bad start

Sunday, July 24, 2011
By: 
Kemantha Govender

Durban - South Africa's international season got off to a dismal start with Australia handing the world champions a 39-20 defeat in the first Tri-Nations game at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney.

The Wallabies look full advantage of the Springboks' shocking defence. Australia scored five tries to go 39-6 up before an hour of the game.

South Africa was forced to leave 21 injured players at home, including several key players. Props Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling and eighthman Ashley Johnson made their debut.

Lock Alistair Hargreaves made his run-on debut and with wings Lwazi Mvovo and Bjorn Basson and flank Deon Stegman - all playing less than five Tests - South Africa lacked the depth in the squad that coach Peter de Villiers normally has at his disposal.

By the 10th minute, early in the first half, the Wallabies scored their first and second try.
Ben Allexander benefitted from a counter attack orchestrated by Australian flyhalf Quade Copper to score the first try while Digby Ioane touched down for the second.

Morne Steyn gave South Africa their first points when he converted a penalty. Australia led by 15-6 by half-time.

Early into the second half, the Wallabies scored their third try. Minutes later Australian hooker Stephen Moore scored another. Adam Ashley Cooper scored Australia's final try.

South Africa's fortune changed after bringing on some fresh legs. Patrick Lambie stepped up to the plate with some good interplay. Chiliboy Ralepelle ignited some hope with his try, South Africa's first in the game.

Captain John Smit scored the Boks other try with minutes left on the clock to bring the game to an end at 39-20.

Following the defeat, Smit said there are plenty positives to take away from the game.
"What I enjoyed about this younger side is they chased to the death. There were some tries going begging for the Wallabies, and there was a lot of guts chasing to make sure it didn't happen.

"Those are the kind of things we can draw upon. When these guys felt that when we got go-ahead ball and got control of the game and a little bit of composure, they realised how easy it can be. But they'll rue the fact that at this level turnovers can really hurt you.

"They'll pull a couple of positives out of this for sure but it's not a great result for us. We'll have to learn from this, let those guys take the experience and then be pretty harsh on Monday," said the Bok skipper.

South Africa faces the challenging task of taking on the All Blacks next Saturday in Wellington.
Meanwhile, uncapped former Sharks lock Gerhard Mostert will join the Springbok squad in Sydney to cover for a succession of injuries to lock forwards.

Mostert, 26, who was called into the team's pre-tour camp as a precaution before being released to his European club, will re-join the squad as a replacement for Johann Muller, who has failed to recover from a hamstring strain.

Muller will return to South Africa on Sunday.

Mostert joins the squad from Paris having signed for Stade Francais after a successful season with The Sharks in Super Rugby.

He fills the gap left by injuries to locks Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Andries Bekker.
Bekker will undergo surgery on Tuesday for a ruptured ankle tendon which means he will miss the Rugby World Cup.

South Africa's suffered a massive blow in the lock department when Flip van der Merwe suffered a rib cartilage injury in the Sydney game.

Van der Merwe suffered the injury in the opening minute of the match and had to withdraw after 34 minutes.

Australia - Tries: Benn Alexander, Digby Ioane, James O'Connor, Stephen Moore, Adam Ashley-Cooper; Conversions: O'Connor (4); Penalties: O'Connor (2).

South Africa - Tries: Chiliboy Ralepelle, John Smit; Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2); Penalties: Morne Steyn (2).