It was always going to be a difficult task for the Wallabies to win away from home against the Springboks but to make matters worse, they lost another five key players throughout the match to go down to South Africa 31-8.
The Springboks haven’t had a great season so far drawing with the Puma’s in Mendoza and losing to both the All Blacks and Wallabies so it was an important match which they managed to control from the kick-off.
It was a game that they couldn’t afford to lose but the Wallabies went into the match with controversy back in Australia with Reds No.10 Quade Cooper stating on twitter that he wouldn’t play for the Wallabies if he was selected because of the ‘toxic’ environment.
I know for a fact that many current senior Wallabies were upset with Cooper who did his best to derail their efforts in Pretoria.
The Wallabies haven’t won in the high veldt over their last five matches but they were quickly smashed by the bigger more committed Springboks who took the game to the Australians who tried hard but were simply way off the pace.
With the legendary No.10 Morne Steyn dropped after his poor efforts against New Zealand a couple of weeks ago there was a great deal of pressure on the 20 year old Johan Goosen playing in his first run on Test for the Springboks.
He played reasonably well but along with Ruan Pienaar they both struggled to put the football between the posts missing five goals collectively in what could have been an embarrassing score line for the Wallabies.
The Springboks first of five tries came after twenty one minutes when full back Zane Kirchner scored in the right corner after some great build up from the Springboks.
Pienaar converted the Kirchner’s try to put the Sprinboks out in front 7-0.
The Wallabies never looked like threatening the Springboks and were getting belted at the breakdown with very little muscle to offer in return.
A couple of minutes later the Springboks had another opportunity to score but Goosen was penalised by Irish referee Alain Rolland for a double movement inches from the try line much to the relief of the Wallabies.
But flying winger Bryan Habana didn’t miss his opportunity when he ran an inside angle to take a great pass from Pienaar to score the second try of the match and his forth in the Rugby Championship to put the Springboks further in front 14-0.
The Wallabies offered very little in the first half with Kurtley Beale getting Australia onto the scoreboard with a late penalty to trail 14-3 but their biggest loss was the replacement of fullback Berrick Barnes and outside centre Adam Ashley Cooper.
Barnes left the field before half time with a punctured lung and Ashley-Cooper receiving severe concussion when he prevented Kirchner from scoring his second try of the match in the right corner.
The writing was on the wall when both sides went into the change rooms with the Springboks in front 14-3 controlling the game at the breakdown unlike the Wallabies who lacked direction and commitment.
The turning point in the second half came when Wallabies prop James Slipper was sin-binned by Rolland for slowing the ball down at the ruck in the 53rd minute.
The ensuing lineout proved gold for the Springboks flanker Francois Louw went over with the help of Habana to stretch their lead 19-3.
At this same time the Wallabies were replacing their No.8 Radike Samo who had a shoulder injury and the match slowly slipping away.
Five minutes later Beale threw a lazy pass to winger Digby Ioane which went into touch at the half way mark and quick thinking from Habana set up his second try of the match aided by some clever play from Springboks hooker Strauss who controlled possession like a seasoned No.10.
At this stage Springboks were well in front 26-3 before the Wallabies finally managed to score their first try when Beale managed to scoot around Hougaard to put replacement No.10 Mike Harris over in the right corner.
By this stage the Wallabies had also lost Digby Ioane with a troubling knee injury and Tatafu Polota-Nau with a neck injury putting their bench severely under pressure.
To make matters worse the Wallabies had to play the final five minutes with only 14 players after they had used all of their seven replacements which the Springboks gladly took advantage of when Louw threw another dummy before throwing a fabulous pass to Habana to score his third try of the match.
The Springboks played some great rugby and could have easily scored forty points proving that they are a different proposition at home.
The Wallabies have a full Test team on the injury list which is going to again challenge their depth when the take on the Pumas in Rosario next weekend.