Australia pip South Africa with stoppage-time try in classic encounter

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Australia 24 South Africa 20

Tevita Kuridrani scored a stoppage-time try to complete a stunning comeback victory for Australia as they defeated South Africa 24-20 in their opening Rugby Championship match in Brisbane.

Kuridrani bundled over in the last play of the game with the win awarded to the hosts after the try was given by the Television Match Official, before the returning Matt Giteau added the conversion.

Australia had been trailing 20-7 early in the second half after tries from Eben Etzebeth and Jesse Kriel gave South Africa the edge, while Adam Ashley-Cooper had scored in the first half for the hosts.

Michael Cheika Australia Head Coach

Michael Hooper crossed for the Wallabies with five minutes remaining before Kuridrani’s decisive try claimed victory for Australia.

South Africa had the first chance to take the lead in the fifth minute when Australia lock Will Skelton conceded a penalty 25 metres out, but fly-half Handre Pollard’s effort from the tee rebounded off the post.

The Wallabies began to get a foothold in the match but the Springboks defence refused to crack and they rampaged to within a few metres of the hosts’ line after a burst upfield by Damian de Allende, followed by centre Kriel on the other side.

However, Pollard took his eye off the ball and it bounced off his chest, leaving Australia to breathe a sigh of relief.

The Boks stand-off atoned for his error shortly after when he successfully kicked a penalty to put his side ahead in the 16th minute.

Australia looked dangerous themselves when full-back Israel Folau made a surging run deep into the Boks’ half but the ball eventually went out for a line out as the visitors’ defence continued to hold strong.

Pollard kicked another successful penalty at the other end after the Australian scrum went backwards under great pressure to give South Africa a 6-0 lead in the 27th minute.

Quade Cooper squandered the chance to get the first points on the board for the hosts just before the half-hour mark when he sent a penalty kick wide.

However, Ashley-Cooper crashed over for his 31st Test try after a strong run through the centre channel a few minutes later, which Cooper converted, to move Australia 7-6 up.

It was not enough to take the lead into the break, though, as Etzebeth worked his way over in the corner with a minute of the half remaining, Pollard adding the conversion from the touchline to leave the Springboks 13-7 ahead.

South Africa extended their lead five minutes into the second half when Kriel crossed following a powerful run, with Pollard’s successful conversion increasing the gap.

A simple penalty from Cooper kept Australia in touch at 20-10 and they continued to work through the phases and build pressure but the Boks defence was up to the onslaught.

A series of scrums on the Boks line resulted in Hooper crossing for Australia’s second try to set up a tense finale, especially as Cooper added the extras to cut the gap to three points with five minutes remaining.

Giteau, back in the Wallabies side after their change in overseas selection policy, had a long-range penalty attempt to draw the scores level but his effort dipped just under the crossbar and fell short.

However, bigger drama was yet to come as after a great deal of pressure on the Boks line, Kuridrani got over and appeared to get the ball down, with an anxious wait while the decision was referred upstairs ending in Australian celebrations as the try was awarded.

Giteau added the extras to wrap up the comeback victory.