Wal­la­bies cough up lead, draw with Boks

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - JUSTIN CHAD­WICK

THE Sea of Blue turned out in their droves as the Wal­la­bies fought out an en­thralling 23-23 draw with South Africa in last night’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship Test in Perth.

The Wal­la­bies led 20-10 in the 47th minute, cour­tesy of tries to Kurt­ley Beale and Tatafu Polota-Nau.

But the home side looked des­tined for an­other heart­break­ing loss when the Spring­boks pro­duced a pow­er­ful sec­ond half to take a 23-20 lead.

Bernard Fo­ley nailed a clutch 40m penalty with nine min­utes to go to level the scores and the Wal­la­bies smoth­ered an af­ter-the-siren drop goal at­tempt from El­ton Jan­tjies to deny South Africa vic­tory.

The re­sult – just a fort­night af­ter a heart­break­ing 35-29 loss to the All Blacks in Dunedin – leaves the Wal­la­bies with a draw and two losses ahead of next week’s clash with Ar­gentina in Can­berra.

West­ern Force jer­seys dom­i­nated the crowd at nib Sta­dium as fans protested against the ax­ing of their beloved fran­chise.

The Wal­la­bies’ gold was scarce, with only about 15 per cent of the 17,528 crowd don­ning the na­tional colours.

Out­side cen­tre Jesse Kriel scored the first try in the 25th minute from a bril­liant grub­ber kick and an ounce of luck.

Kriel drib­bled the ball for­ward 25m and Wal­la­bies flanker Michael Hooper and Spring­boks winger Ray­mond Rhule gave chase.

Hooper and Rhule col­lided just as they were about to reach the ball, with Kriel cruis­ing in to pick up the crumbs and touch down in the cor­ner.

How­ever, the visi­tors’ joy was short-lived, with Is­rael Fo­lau winning back the restart and Beale pro­duc­ing a dodge­and-weave run to touch down.

An early head knock to hooker Polota-Nau gave 20year-old Jor­dan Ue­lese an ear­lier-than-ex­pected de­but in the 18th minute.

Ue­lese made an early break be­fore Polota-Nau re­turned to the field af­ter Kriel’s try.

Fo­ley’s penalty af­ter the half­time siren gave the Wal­la­bies a 13-10 edge at the break, and when Polota-Nau barged over af­ter a li­ne­out and rolling maul, the Wal­la­bies led 20-10.

Hooper pro­duced a try-sav­ing tackle me­tres from the line to stop Jan Ser­fontein’s blis­ter­ing run.

But there was no stop­ping hooker Mal­colm Marx, who barged over af­ter a dom­i­nant rolling maul. There was drama ga­lore af­ter the fi­nal siren as South Africa pushed for vic­tory.

Even af­ter Janties’ drop goal at­tempt was charged down, the Wal­la­bies needed to pro­duce some res­o­lute de­fence to en­sure South Africa didn’t score a try.

Picture: AAP

Sekope Kepu ploughs for­ward for the Wal­la­bies against South Africa at nib Sta­dium in Perth last night

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