Perth, Australia (AP) — South Africa overcame a 20-10 deficit to draw with Australia 23-23 in the Rugby Championship, on Saturday, leaving the Wallabies without a win after three matches.
The Wallabies had a 10-point lead in the 47th minute after tries to Kurtley Beale and Tatafu Polota-Nau. But the home side looked destined for another loss when the Springboks produced a powerful second half to take a 23-20 lead.
Bernard Foley nailed a clutch 40-meter penalty with nine minutes to go to level the scores, and the Wallabies smothered an after-the-siren dropped-goal attempt from Elton Jantjies to deny South Africa victory.
After Jantjies’ goal attempt, the Wallabies rushed downfield in pursuit of victory, but a knock on from Samu Kerevi ended the match. The draw was Australia’s third against South Africa and first since 2001, with all three coming in Perth.
The Springboks said prop Coenie Oosthuizen broke an arm in the second half and will be replaced by uncapped Wilco Louw for the match next weekend against New Zealand. Louw is expected to join the Springboks on Monday in Auckland.
The Wallabies dominated several statistical categories and had twice as many run meters as South Africa, but were outplayed at the breakdown and set-piece.
“Missed opportunity there,” Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said. “Set-piece didn’t allow us to get momentum in the second half. Restarts weren’t up to scratch, but a lot to like there. Credit to the South Africans, they managed to grind and put the pressure on us.”
The result, two weeks after a 35-29 loss to the All Blacks in Dunedin, leaves the Wallabies with a draw and two losses. Next week they host Argentina in Canberra.
Outside center Jesse Kriel scored the first try for South Africa from a grubber kick. Kriel dribbled the ball for 25 meters and Hooper and Springboks winger Raymond Rhule gave chase.
Hooper and Rhule collided just as they were about to reach the ball, and Kriel cruised in to pick up the loose ball and touch down in the corner.
The lead was short-lived: Israel Folau won back Australia’s restart, and Beale produced a dodge-and-weave run to touch down for a try.
An early head injury to hooker Polota-Nau gave 20-year-old Jordan Uelese an earlier-than-expected Wallabies debut in the 18th minute. Uelese made an early break, and Polota-Nau returned to the field after Kriel’s try.
Foley’s penalty after the halftime siren gave the Wallabies a 13-10 edge, and when Polota-Nau barged over after a lineout and rolling maul, the Wallabies led 20-10.
“At 20-10 up, we should have gone on with that,” Australia coach Michael Cheika said.
South Africa opened the Rugby Championship with consecutive wins over Argentina, and expected more in Perth.
“The Springboks will never be happy with a draw,” South Africa coach Allister Coetzee said. “I am, however, satisfied with the overall performance … the team showed great character in their fightback. We had three line breaks and no reward in the last couple of minutes. We also continue to scrum well and our lineout also functioned well, plus we saw a massive improvement in our mauling tonight.”
In the day’s earlier game, the New Zealand All Blacks beat Argentina 39-22 in New Plymouth.