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Springboks hold off Wallabies

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Sportal.co.nz     30 Aug 2009     Getty Images

The Springboks had scored just four tries in their last four Tests, but turned it on with two tries in the opening 10 minutes and four for the game to earn a bonus point and virtually wrap up the Investec Tri Nations for 2009.

The Wallabies have now lost their last six Tri Nations matches in their equal-worst run ever, while the Springboks have won their last five.

The Wallabies made far too many mistakes, but what would have disappointed coach Robbie Deans even more were the errors when there was no pressure on.

Springbok halfback Fourie du Preez was brilliant and clearly outplayed Luke Burgess. Du Preez scored the game's opening try and set up Bryan Habana for his second of the game in the second half in a man-of-the-match performance.

Jaque Fourie scored South Africa's other try, while Matt Giteau scored Australia's first two – taking his tally to nine in matches against South Africa and past Stirling Mortlock and Breyton Paulse in meetings between the two nations.

It was a disastrous error-riddled first half for the Wallabies and after just 10 minutes it already looked a long way back with the Springboks scoring two early tries.

Dropped high balls from Richard Brown (two) and Rocky Elsom best illustrated the lack of composure early and South Africa was ready to pounce.

Du Preez got his and South Africa's night off to the perfect start as he made the quick movement from the breakdown after a penalty against Brown. He escaped tackling attempts from Brown, Burgess and Adam Ashley-Cooper to score all too easily. Steyn converted for the early 7-0 lead.

That was 12-0 five minutes later when centre Fourie strolled through the Wallabies' backline with no resistance. Giteau was the first he strolled past, and then he also wrong-footed Ashley-Cooper and James O'Connor.

After Giteau missed the first of his four penalty attempts in the first half, Steyn showed him how it was done after Ben Alexander was penalised for collapsing the scrum.

The Wallabies finally scored 28 minutes in when Giteau converted a penalty. It wasn't the start of an Australian comeback, though, as Habana made it three first-half tries for the Springboks.

It again came from an Australian mistake when Turner fumbled a high ball following pressure from Jean de Villiers and Habana pounced, and cruised to the line in top gear.

When Steyn converted the Springboks led 22-3 and not even a Giteau penalty on the half-time buzzer made the scoreline look better.

Two minutes into the second half it was a different Wallabies unit. Giteau showed determination to force his way over and when he converted the margin was nine.

The Wallabies were building some momentum, but that all ended with a Springboks foray forward. A poor lineout from Australia gave Habana one chance out wide to score which he botched, but he took his next chance a minute later.

From a scrum, du Preez laid off a perfect pass to Habana who was at full pace and the try, and conversion from Steyn, gave South Africa an unassailable 29-13 lead.

The Springboks almost went further ahead when JP Pietersen was away on his wing on a counterattack, but pulled a hamstring and had to kick the ball away.

The Wallabies earned a consolation try with just over five minutes to go through Giteau after a superb around-the-back pass from Quade Cooper and Turner added another on the final whistle.

South Africa 32 (Habana 2, du Preez, Fourie tries; Steyn 3 cons, 2 pens) Australia 25 (Giteau 2, Turner tries; Giteau 2 cons, 2 pens)