Well, after all the pre match publicity and the Aussies almost refusing to play a second rate weak team and with them having been huge favorites to win the match, their full strength team very near lost to these SA underdogs!
The Aussies looked lacklustre and were anything but sparkling, in what was not a very entertaining game of rugby, from a spectator's perspective. And all the negative comment, cost them big time. The crowds stayed away and the Telstra Stadium was only half full. The bad attitude of the Aussies, came back to bite them, in lost revenues.
The Springbok "second stringers" were a little better, than the lethargic and probably over confident Wallaby team expected them to be, on the day. In fact, the Springboks wasted no time in getting points on the board and after the first 16 minutes of play, they already had a tally of 17 points. They certainly stunned the Wallabies, who were at a loss, as to what was happening.
The 'Boks were not that bad, but certainly were not that good either. Some players played their hearts out and others were abysmal. The forwards battled up front, so not much ball reached the backs. Wikus van Heerden should have been a man of the match for his efforts, but this award always goes to someone in the winning team. He and Skinstad, Paulse, Murray and van Der Linde, all shade, as did the oldest man on the field, Johan Ackermann. Pienaar, Wannenburg, Van den Burgh, Pietersen and Olivier fought on, but never had a good day, while Bismarck Du Plessis, and Hougaard were terrible. Hougaard missed three penalies and in the last phase of the game, Du Plessis failed to pass inside to an unmarked Paulse, for a certain try. Those 16 lost points, are what preceded the Springboks from showing up the Wallabies and sealing an illegally victory, but it was not to be.
The ref was maybe a little harsh, in sin binning first Gary Botha and then Johan Muller and the loss of Ackermann, injured after the first half hour, left a lack of power in the scrums. Skinstad cracked a rib and the 2 injured players were sent back to south Africa.
Through the loss of players, to injury and yellow cards, the Aussies were able to take advantage and convert that into points. The Springboks owned the entire first half of the match, the Aussies were able to level the scores in the 3rd quarter and then appeared to drift off into complacency, but suddenly awoke again, in the last 10 minutes and scored twice, to win the match 25 – 17.
Although the South Africans were disappointed at their loss, it is the Wallabies who will be licking their wounds. The fact that they were unable to control the game and decidedly thrash the second stringers, will be of more concern to them, than the fact that the Springboks know that they should have won. If they had not squandered those 16 points the result would have been something different. They can rest easy, in knowing that they nearly caused an upset, but will have to right a few wrongs in their plan, before they meet New Zealand in the 4th week of the Tri Nations. The Kiwis are a much better outfit and will not have been upset by the result, or the publicity. They know what they have to do and are sure to do just that, if they want the trophy.
It is unclear at this stage, who will take over the Springbok captaincy, but one thing is for sure – they have not disgraced themselves and certainly keep the whining Aussies something to think about. Some players have actually shown, that they are worthy of being in the SA World Cup squad and this could cause more heads for the Springbok selectors.