The Springboks dished up one of their worst performances in recent memory on Saturday, going down 30-17 against the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship clash in Brisbane.
Ill-disciplined, poor defensively and void of any attacking penetration or enterprise for the bulk of the contest, this result effectively ends the South African charge at the 2021 Rugby Championship title.
The Springboks stay on 10 points from four fixtures with two remaining against the All Blacks, who will go out to 20 points on the log if they secure a bonus point win against Argentina later on Saturday.
The Wallabies, having beaten the Boks for two weekends in a row, secured the bonus point to move up to 9 points.
There was a brief moment at the start of the second half where it looked like the Boks were going to take control of the match, but what followed was a similar situation to last weekend as the Wallabies won all of the big moments.
Where the hosts were clinical and decisive with ball in hand with their forwards impressive, the Boks were nowhere, lacking in execution.
The difference between the quality of the performance was there for all to see, and by the time the full-time whistle blew, nobody could argue with the fact that the Boks had been outplayed.
As was the case on the Gold Coast last weekend, South Africa’s discipline cost them dearly.
Australia were full value for their first two first-half tries, but both of them came during the 10-minute period that the Boks were down to 14 men after Faf de Klerk’s senseless yellow card for knocking the ball out of Nic White’s hands at a ruck.
From the resulting lineout – the Wallabies turned down the three points – the ball was spread out left and with the Bok defence stretched, Len Ikitau went over for his first try.
Handre Pollard, who slipped a crucial tackle in the build-up to that try, then slotted a difficult penalty from 40m out and near the right-hand touchline to get the Boks on the board and make it 5-3.
Australia were back at it soon after, though, and slick handling and intelligent distribution again had the South African defence scrambling before Ikitau finished off down the right.
This time, Quade Cooper kicked the conversion, and the Wallabies had a 12-3 lead.
A scrum penalty then allowed Pollard to kick his second of the night to make it 12-6 before Cooper and Pollard exchanged penalties again to make it 15-9.
One of the major talking points of the match came on 33 minutes when Aussie No 6 Lachlan Swinton went clattering into Duane Vermeulen, hitting him high and with no arms.
After numerous replays, referee Matthew Carley decided that the punishment should be a straight red card, but he was talked out of his decision by Australian TMO Brett Cronan, and Swinton escaped with yellow.
Vermeulen left the field for a concussion check, but he was back on by the start of the second half.
A fourth Pollard penalty narrowed the gap to 15-12, but by the end of the first half the Springboks had endured the most frustrating of outings, missing 12 tackles in those 40 minutes to dish up one of their worst defensive performances in years.
De Klerk, who had cost his side dearly in the opening period, then ignited the perfect start to the second half for the visitors.
He took a quick tap from a penalty and then, with another advantage on his side, stabbed a deft grubber down the right touchline where Lukhanyo Am gathered and made no mistake.
Pollard missed his conversion from the right touchline, but the Springboks were 17-15 ahead and would have been feeling a lot better about life given how poor they were in the first half.
Cooper nudged the Wallabies back ahead on 50 minutes after the Boks had drifted offsides, but the killer blow came just after the hour mark when Marika Koroibete finished off a stunning blindside move from the hosts.
Cooper kicked the extras and the Wallabies were 25-17 ahead, and when Koroibete went over for his second minutes later, the Bok defence was all at sea with the Aussies slicing through them at will.
Jacques Nienaber turned to his bench and while there was a desperate push from the Boks towards the end of the contest, they had left themselves with far too much to do.
In the end, they were well beaten in all departments and looked nothing like the world championship outfit that toppled the British & Irish Lions earlier this year.
To make matters worse, replacement Jasper Wiese was yellow-carded for a dangerous hit towards the end of the match.
Australia 30 (15)
Tries: Len Ikitau (2), Marika Koroibete (2)
Conversions: Quade Cooper (2)
Penalties: Cooper (2)
SA 17 (12)
Try: Lukhanyo Am
Penalties: Handre Pollard (4)
15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Substitutes: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse
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