BRISBANE, Australia (AP) â€” Tevita Kuridrani barged over after the full-time siren to secure Australia a 24-20 win over South Africa in a dramatic complete to their Rugby Championship opener on Saturday.
The Springboks led 13-7 at halftime & extended the margin to 13 points when Jesse Kriel scored on debut in the 45th, yet Australia rallied with two tries in the last six minutes to produce a last-gasp victory.
After Matt Giteau missed a penalty attempt to equalize with two minutes to go, & with is team still trailing by three points, skipper Stephen Moore opted to kick for touch & push for a try when Australia was awarded another penalty in the dying seconds.
p>Australia won the ensuing lineout & barraged the line before Kuridrani burrowed over in the tackle of Springboks No. 8 Schalk Burger, just managing to ground the ball on the line.
"The boys just stuck at it I suppose," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said, trying to sum up the comeback. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't yell out 'kick for goal' on the last penalty. Just goes to show the mentality," of the Wallabies.
"Coming back like that tonight, when we were down, will donate them a lot of self-belief going forward."
Australia's Israel Folau, top, celebrates with teammate Tevita Kuridrani after Kuridrani scored …
It was Cheika's first win as coach in a test on home soil, & ended a run of three straight losses for the Wallabies. But for most of the match, the South Africans were in front & were playing better, more controlled rugby & dominating the breakdown, frustrating Australia's efforts for quick phase ball.
The match turned early in the second half when flanker David Pocock made his return to the test arena after a two-year injury-enforced absence to donate Australia some parity at the breakdown & Greg Holmes went on to prop the Wallaby scrum for the first time in eight years.
South Africa by that stage had replaced the entire front row, & missed the impact of hooker Bismarck du Plessis in particular at the set piece & around the field where he'd helped Burger & Francois Louw dominate at the breakdown.
The focus before the test was on the return of 32-year-old Giteau, ending a four-year exile to earn his 93rd test cap, & the restoration of Will Genia & Quade Cooper, returing from injury, in the halves.
The experience & guile of the veteran trio was tipped to overawe the young Springboks in midfield, who had a total of 12 caps between with Handre Pollard at flyhalf & Damian de Allende & Kriel in the centres.
South African Springbok Schalk Burger places the ball during their Rugby Championship match against …
But the Wallabies over-complicated their attack, & too much ball went astray. Genia was injured & replaced by Nick Phipps at halftime & Cooper didn't complete the match, replaced by Matt Toomua's more direct style.
In the end, it was the back-to-basics approach that received the Australians across the line.
South Africa took a 6-0 lead via two Pollard penalties before conceding the first try of the match to Australian winger Adam Ashley-Cooper, who took an inside ball from Cooper at second receiver in the 33rd minute.
But The Springboks responded with tries two minutes before & five minutes after the halftime break to lead 20-7.
Pollard put a high kick into the corner, which Bryan Habana batted back to Willie le Roux, who received a pass around behind a defender to send lock Etzebeth into the corner in the 38th. The 21-year-old Kriel cut back on an angle from the left touchline & beat three tacklers for a try in the 45th.
Both coaches made a string of changes, & momentum changed. Cooper kicked a penalty to make it 20-10 in the 55th and, after shoring up the scrum & matching the South African loose trio at the breakdown, the Wallabies started to dominate possession.
After pushing Burger back in-goal to win a five-yard scrum for Australia, Michael Hooper scored from close range in the 74th to make it 20-17.
Australia threw the ball into the last lineout after the siren sounded and, after spreading the ball to both sides, Kuridrani barged over & the TV official confirmed the clinching five-pointer.
SpringboksSouth AfricaBRISBANE, AustraliaWallabies
Source: “Associated Press”