The Springbok’s underlined their Tri-Nations intentions with a clinical 29-17 victory over the Wallabies at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Wallabies started well with full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper crossing for a try in the opening minute of the game.
But South Africa bounced back in emphatic style, with a trademark performance of brain and brawn that included 24 points from the lethal boot of Morné Steyn and a try for the outstanding second row Victor Matfield.
The result represents more than one South African hand on the Tri-Nations trophy. As well as confirming their place on the top of World Rugby at the moment.
They saw off the best of Britain and Ireland, recorded consecutive wins over the All Blacks and have now handed the Australian side a lesson in structured rugby.
South Africa’s game plan is as simple as it is effective: brutal defence, solid set-pieces, dynamic counter-rucking and, most importantly, field position. This plan suits them down to the ground, with the Du Preez and the two Steyn being such fantastic kickers of the ball and the team featuring Natural powerhouses like Pierre Spies and Juan Smith.
Ashley-Cooper’s early try was, in retrospect, the worst possible start for Australia: it stung like a boot in South Africa’s collective backside.
Berrick Barnes then added a well taken drop goal but a penalty and drop-goal combo from Morné Steyn pulled South Africa clea.
With the Boks now leading Captain and prop Jon Smit (Wearing His Adidas Flanker Rugby boots) showed great skill being grubbering through with his left foot meant for the flying Bryan Habbana (wearing his CCC Flexitop Shoulder Pads) ended up being grounded by second Row Victor Matfield after Wallabies wing Lachie Turner failed to deal with the kick.
Austrlia then had a bad ten minutes. In quick succession they lost their captain, Stirling Mortlock, to injury and Giteau and Richard Brown to the sin-bin. Giteau lucky not to have seen Red for his shoulder charge.
The Boks profited from Brown’s misdemeanour via Morné Steyn’s boot to leave the game all but out of reach of the visitors at 23-10 at the break.
More Australia indiscipline Morné Steyn (wearing his Nike vapor Rugby boots) then sent over his sixth penalty as the game ticked towards the hour mark.
A great run by Young James O’Connor, on for Mortlock, put Australia within striking distance of the green line and Giteau to step his way under the posts with some great footwork.
Steyn again then added his 7th penalty from close range to kill the game off for the men in Green and Gold.
For South Africa:
Pens: M Steyn 7
Drop: M Steyn
Tries: Ashley-Cooper, Giteau
Con: Giteau 2
Yellow card(s): Giteau (Australia) – body-check, 34; Brown (Australia) – off-side, 35; Smith (Australia) – hands in the ruck, 78.
South Africa: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Adi Jacobs.
Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 George Smith, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 James Horwill, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Dean Mumm, 19 David Pocock, 20 Will Genia, 21 Peter Hynes, 22 James O’Connor.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Tim Hayes (Wales)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)