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Wallabies clinch second Rugby Championship win over Springboks

By Alex McLeod

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The Wallabies have secured the Mandela Challenge Plate for the first time since 2018 after registering their second straight win over the Springboks in as many weeks.

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A week after Quade Cooper’s heroics were enough to clinch a 28-26 victory on the Gold Coast, the Australians ran the South Africans off their feet as their attacking flair trumped the cautious nature of their opponents in a 30-17 win in Brisbane.

The match was marred by controversy in the first half when Lachlan Swinton escaped a red card thanks to the help of the TMO after a high tackle on Duane Vermeulen, which was still deemed worthy of a yellow card in controversial fashion.

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In The Know with Michael Cheika | Can the Wallabies beat the Springboks for a second time in a row?
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In The Know with Michael Cheika | Can the Wallabies beat the Springboks for a second time in a row?

That wasn’t enough to salvage a result for the Springboks, who had their own disciplinary problems with Faf de Klerk sent to the sin bin for a professional foul early in the first half.

Held try-less by Dave Rennie’s impressive Wallabies outfit, the Springboks struggled to contain their opponents who looked to keep the ball in play where possible and occasionally overpowered the South African pack at the set piece.

When they did have the ball in hand, the Wallabies looked sharp on attack, with rookie midfielder Len Ikitau running in a pair of tries inside the opening 20 minutes on the back of some swift distribution skills and impressive footwork.

Springboks playmaker Handre Pollard landed four penalty goals to make it a 15-12 scoreline in favour of the Wallabies at half-time, but a genius box kick from De Klerk early in the second half was latched onto by Lukhanyo Am in the in-goal area.

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That try gave the Springboks a brief two-point lead, which was lost nine minutes later thanks to Quade Cooper’s boot, but it took a piece of brilliance from Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou to give his side some breathing room.

Attacking down the short side via reserve halfback Tate McDermott, Tupou flicked the ball into the hands of Marika Koroibete with the deft of a veteran backline player, which was enough to put the winger away for a try.

That piece of play capped off an outstanding showing from Tupou, who was close to Australia’s best throughout the encounter as he racked up a mammoth 78 minutes of action.

Just six minutes later, Koroibete doubled down on his try-scoring feats after the Wallabies hit the Springboks on the counter from a breakdown turnover in a sequence of play that spanned about 60 metres of the field.

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Koroibete’s second try proved to be the killer blow for the Springboks, whose woes were compounded when reserve loose forward Jasper Wiese was given a yellow card in the dying minutes of the contest for an illegal clean-out on Samu Kerevi.

The result leaves South Africa’s hopes of retaining their Rugby Championship title in tatters as their credibility as world champions side is now seriously damaged.

By contrast, the win will be immensely satisfying for the Wallabies as they lock away one of their most prized pieces of silverware for the first time in three years.

Wallabies 30 (Tries to Len Ikitau (2), Marika Koroibete (2); 2 conversions, 2 penalties to Quade Cooper)

Springboks 17 (Try to Lukhanyo Am; 4 penalties to Handre Pollard)

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Wallabies clinch second Rugby Championship win over Springboks

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