PERTH, Australia, Sep 9 – Australia and South Africa fought out a thrilling 23-23 draw in their Rugby Championship Test in Perth on Saturday.
The Springboks clawed back from 20-10 down early in the second half to hit the front 23-20 before Bernard Foley kicked a levelling penalty goal for the Wallabies 10 minutes from time.
The draw left South Africa unbeaten in six internationals this year, while the Wallabies earned their first points in the Rugby Championship after two defeats to New Zealand.
The Wallabies looked on target to push on to victory when they extended their 13-10 half-time advantage to lead 20-10 seven minutes after the resumption.
It was the Springboks set-piece that turned the game in the second half winning key lineouts and disrupting the Wallabies scrum.
The draw meant the Springboks have not beaten the Wallabies in Australia since their 38-12 romp in Brisbane in 2013.
“It was an awesome effort in the second half,” Springboks skipper Eben Etzebeth said.
“We said at half-time that we had to work on a couple of things and we almost pulled it through.
“The scrums went really well for us and we also got rewards from the maul.”
Asked hot he felt about the draw Etzebeth said:”It’s difficult, you always want to win these games and would have loved it to be us but unfortunately a draw.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he was disappointed his team did not close out the match.
“We wanted to have a win tonight no doubt, but it’s a young team learning about how to deal with those situations and we need to get better because with 10 points up we should have gone on with it,” Cheika said.
Elton Jantjies and Bernard Foley exchanged penalties before the Springboks struck first in the 25th minute off a turnover.
Ross Cronje pinched the ball and Jesse Kriel kicked ahead with winger Raymond Rhule and Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper jostling for the ball.
Rhule shouldered Hooper off the ball and Kriel picked it and scored in the right corner for Jantjies to convert.
But the Wallabies hit back quickly with inside-centre Kurtley Beale spearing through a gap to score and Foley converted to level the scores.
Foley kicked a penalty goal on the siren to give the Wallabies a 13-10 half-time advantage.
The Wallabies extended their lead to 20-10 seven minutes after the resumption with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau on the end of a push-over try from a lineout win.
Jantjies kicked a penalty for the Springboks to trail by seven points before hooker Maloclm Marx scored off a pushover try from a lineout win midway through the half to level the scores.
Jantjies kicked South Africa to the front when the Springbok scrum forced a penalty inside the Australians’ quarter.
Foley levelled the scores with 10 minutes left and South Africa had the chance to snatch victory after the full-time siren but Jantjies drop goal attempt was charged down.
It has been a torrid year for Australia, winning only two of their six internationals and coming off a miserable Super Rugby season climaxed by the contentious axing of Perth-based Western Force from next year’s competition.