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All Blacks' Tri Nations hopes still alive

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Sportal.co.nz     06 Sep 2009     Getty Images

Having led by three points at the break, Robbie Deans' men finally found a way to close the deal scoring with tries to Adam Ashley-Cooper and James O'Connor sealing a morale-boosting victory.

The Wallabies' win, their first in five attempts, leaves the Springboks needing to secure two points against the All Blacks in Hamilton next Saturday to lock up their first Tri Nations series since 2004.

Deans' decision to make wholesale changes to his starting line-up was justified with young-guns Will Genia and David Pocock among Australia's best performers.

The Wallabies' recent dominance of the Springboks' scrum continued with man-of-the-match Benn Robinson lowering John Smit's colours for the third consecutive game, while the lineout was also much improved.

The host was rewarded for chancing its arm from its own line in the sixth minute when Matt Giteau slotted a penalty goal to grab an early 3-0 advantage.

Having survived a close call after the Springboks launched a counter-attack of their own, the Wallabies were denied their first five pointer by a desperate Bryan Habana try-saver on Lachie Turner in the 17th minute.

Giteau's 27th-minute penalty was cancelled out by Morne Steyn's dropped goal two minutes later as the torrid encounter began to take its toll - Tuner and Tatafu Polota-Nau both forced from the field through injury on the half hour.

But the Wallabies still managed to edge further ahead when Giteau slotted a dropped goal five minutes out from the break before Steyn's landed his first penalty goal of the night in the shadows of halftime to trim the Wallabies' lead to 9-6 at the interval.

The Springboks showed their hand three minutes in when Steyn looked to draw level with a dropped goal, but his rare miss saw the host cling to its slender advantage.

In contrast, the Wallabies went in search of the goal line and looked to have scored when livewire halfback Genia caught the visitors napping off a free-kick, only to be denied by a desperate goalline tackle from Fourie du Preez.

Australia was again denied on the line in the 61st minute when Jaque Fourie forced Giteau into touch.

But it was finally rewarded for its efforts two minutes later when Berrick Barnes sent Ashley-Cooper over untouched with Giteau adding the extras from in front for a 16-6 lead.

Giteau missed the chance to edge further ahead with a missed penalty attempt 13 minutes from fulltime, before James O'Connor put the contest beyond doubt with a late try off a Springboks error to seal a well-earned victory.

Scorers: Wallabies 21 (Adam Ashley-Cooper, James O'Connor tries; Matt Giteau con, 2 pen, dropped goal) South Africa 6 (Morne Steyn pen, dropped goal). HT: 9-6