South Africa were forced to come from behind to seal a 28-10 Rugby Championship victory over Australia in Cape Town on Saturday.
Trailing by a point with ten minutes to play, the home side scored three tries and a drop-goal in the dying minutes to secure the bonus-point win.
Skipper Jean de Villiers touched down twice to add to tries from Marcel Coetzee and Pat Lambie as South Africa outscored Australia four tries to one.
The Springboks were unable to put a glut of possession and territory to good use in the first half, allowing Australia to take a 10-5 lead into the interval.
Poor kicking, basic handling errors and the failure to simply pass the ball when facing clear overlaps repeatedly cut the Boks momentum, wasting a plethora of front-foot ball.
What had been a frustrating evening for the Newlands faithful turned to pure joy however as the Boks’ bench came to the rescue and the men in green finally executed in the closing stages.
The hosts dominated the early exchanges and were first to cross the whitewash via a rolling maul, but seldom threatened to break through the Wallaby defence through any other method.
Australia needed just four minutes to score their ten points, including a try from deep inside their own half scored by wing Adam Ashley-Cooper.
The hosts showed their intent to keep ball in hand right from the start, taking it through 17 phases in the opening salvo but the ease with which Australia were able to defend the predictable attacking lines would have been a concern for Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.
After Willie le Roux and Cornal Henrdricks combined to get the hosts into the Aussie 22, South Africa were rewarded for turning down a kickable penalty in favour of a line-out as they set up a textbook maul to crash over after 13 minutes, Coetzee the man with his hands on the ball.
Australia got on the board via a penalty against Adriaan Strauss for taking out a man without the ball as Bernard Foley made amends for an earlier miss.
The visitors took the lead with try against the run of play as Tevita Kuridrani – who looked dangerous whenever he touched the ball – bust through the double tackle of Byran Habana and Handre Pollard to race clear before offloading to Ashley-Cooper, who finished in the corner.
Foley added the extras from the touchline to put the Wallabies up 10-5 just before the half-hour mark.
That’s how the scores would stay as the Boks again turned down an easy penalty in favour of an attacking line-out. The gamble didn’t pay off the second time as the ball was lost at the back of the maul.
Pollard score the first points of the second half for the Boks after a ruck offence from the visitors, cutting the deficit to two points.
Pat Lambie should have given the Boks the lead with a penalty from dead in front but sliced his kick to leave his team trailing with 15 minutes to play.
After his team-mates had twice wasted overlaps on the outside, Lambie finally put the hosts in front with a drop-goal in the 71st minute.
Hendricks looked to have fluffed another golden chance after Jan Serfontein’s break but De Villiers collected Bismarck du Plessis’s pop pass to score the corner and give South Africa some breathing room. Lambie missed the conversion though, meaning at 16-10, Australia were still within striking distance.
But the the last nine minutes saw one-way traffic as the Wallaby defence fell apart.
First Lambie stepped his way over for try number three before De Villiers rubbed salt into the Wallaby wounds with the fourth in the final minute off Victor Matfield’s pass after Cobus Reinach broke clear.
Man of the match: Although on the losing side, Tevita Kuridrani deserves this gong for an impressive carrying performance at outside centre. Jean de Villiers and Duane Vermeulen deserve mentions but the Wallaby back was a cut above at Newlands.
Moment of the match: The Wallabies looked set to pinch another result until De Villiers’ first try opened the flood gates.
Villain of the match: No nasty stuff to report
For South Africa:
Tries: Coetzee, De Villiers 2, Lambie
Drop Goals: Lambie
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handrè Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Tebo Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nic White, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Rob Horne.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)