The Wallabies have snapped a four-match losing streak and relieved some of the pressure on coach Michael Cheika with a gritty 23-18 win over the Springboks.
It wasn’t pretty, but Australia overcame the disappointment of losing Israel Folau and David Pocock, and then Adam Coleman on the day, to grind out the first win of their Rugby Championship campaign.
After two tries apiece in the first half, the only points in the second came through a pair of Matt Toomua penalties which settled the match played on a slippery Suncorp Stadium.
Toomua scored 15 points all up to cap a strong outing in his first start in two years.
It’s the first victory for the Wallabies since the opening Test of their June series against Ireland. But the nature of the win is unlikely to silence the critics of Cheika and his methods and selections.
The Wallabies got off to a good start, crossing for the opening try in just the second minute through skipper Michael Hooper.
But their promising momentum was quickly stalled through ill-discipline, mistakes and poor defence, with Bongi Mbonambi putting South Africa ahead after a rolling maul obliterated the home side’s resistance, after 15 minutes.
The Springboks extended the lead to 15-7 when Faf de Klerk picked out an unmarked Makazole Mapimpi with a lovely cut-out pass.
But the Springboks then handed the Wallabies a massive gift in the 33rd minute with a botched lineout throw in which bounced perfectly for Toomua, who slid under the posts to reduce South Africa’s lead to 15-14.
That’s how it stayed after Elton Jantjies and Reece Hodge traded penalties before half-time – the latter unleashing his superboot from 53 metres out.
After dominating territory for the first chunk of the second half, the Wallabies finally took the lead back through a Toomua penalty, which made it 20-18.
Another penalty from Toomua in the 66th minute gave them a little more breathing space, but they had to hold out a long period of battering pressure from South Africa until well after the siren to secure the win.
All Blacks prevail against spirited Pumas
Meanwhile, in Nelson, New Zealand, the All Blacks scored six tries to three to beat Argentina 46-24.
A tough and unrelenting Pumas side refused to lie down, creating three tries of their own through the brilliance of fly-half Nicolas Sanchez.
But they lacked the finishing power of NZ who scored four tries in the second half to take a third bonus point win in the Rugby Championship to move closer to defending their title. The All Blacks lead the championship with 15 points, ahead of South Africa on six and Australia and Argentina both on four points.