Wallabies go down to Springboks in spiteful Rugby Championship encounter marred by all-in brawl


Instead of moving to the top of the Rugby Championship ladder, the Wallabies were brutalised 24-8 by the Springboks in a spiteful clash that was marred by an all-in brawl at the newly re-built Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday night. 

Coming off a strong win over South Africa in Adelaide last weekend, the Wallabies could not capitalise on a raucous home crowd and were thoroughly outplayed by a brutally impressive Springboks side.

19-year-old Springboks winger Canan Moodie scored a dazzling try on debut, while his counterpart Makazola Mapimpi sparked an all-in brawl after grabbing at Wallabies star Marika Koroibete’s throat after scoring a try.

Springboks forward Eben Etzebeth (R) gets into some fisticuffs with Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa during Saturday’s fiery game

The Wallabies were smashed in the collision from the outset and are still yet to win back-to-back games this season – much to the chagrin of skipper James Slipper, who clearly took it to heart.

‘It just felt like we didn’t play much rugby. We didn’t really fire a shot,’ he said after the game.

‘We knew what sort of game it would be in these conditions, a big set piece, big kicking game. They were just dropping bombs on us all night and we just got stuck down our end.

‘We really wanted to build a bit of momentum. That’s probably why I’m so gutted right now. Lost a game for our country,’ said a gutted Slipper.

The Springboks scored twice either side of the half but it was Moodie’s first Test try that stole the show, soaring above Koroibete to pluck a towering Jaden Hendrikse box kick and race away to score.

Springboks winger Canan Moodie scores a try on debut after an incredible, towering take over Wallabies star Marika Koroibete

Springboks winger Canan Moodie scores a try on debut after an incredible, towering take over Wallabies star Marika Koroibete

Mapimpi capped the win on 72 minutes finishing a fine Springboks movement from 30 metre out, but was sin-binned after he grabbing at Korobete’s throat – which sparked an all-in brawl.

There appeared to be a degree of revenge after the Wallaby winger smashed him over the sideline with a monster hit as he attempted to score in the Adelaide Test.

Eben Etzebeth got a case of the crazy eyes and was lucky to avoid getting a yellow card himself after a heated confrontation during the brawl with Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa.

Makazole Mapimpi (top) scuffles with Marika Koroibete after scoring a try for the Sprinboks on Saturday night

Makazole Mapimpi (top) scuffles with Marika Koroibete after scoring a try for the Sprinboks on Saturday night

It was one of many skirmishes on the night, and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi said it wasn’t the way he wanted his side to be approaching the game.

‘It’s a bit disappointing and we definitely don’t want to encourage that kind of behaviour. We have millions of kinds around the world watching us,’ he said in a press conference after the game.

‘It happens now and then and I thought it was handled well by the referee.’ 

Eben Etzebeth (centre, green jersey) was fired up during an all-in brawl

Eben Etzebeth (centre, green jersey) was fired up during an all-in brawl

Having orchestrated South Africa’s first win in Australia in nine years, coach Jacques Nienaber said the performance was a huge step up from the Adelaide defeat.

‘Obviously last week we created a couple of opportunities and I thought we didn’t take those,’ he told reporters after the win.

‘That was better tonight and obviously we weren’t happy with the intensity we started the game with last week, especially those first 20 to 25 minutes … that was a big step up today.’

His Wallabies counterpart was certainly not as pleased after Australia’s forward pack got bullied on several occasions. 

Shattered Wallabies players littered the field after the side's loss to the Springboks on Saturday night in Sydney

Shattered Wallabies players littered the field after the side’s loss to the Springboks on Saturday night in Sydney

The maddening inconsistency of the Wallabies over the past year was something Dave Rennie said just had to improve.

‘I don’t know about one (step) forward, two (steps) back … it’s a tough competition, you’ve got to be at your best every week to be in with a sniff,’ he said after the game.

‘Clearly that’s been a big part of our mantra, we have an understanding we’re playing for something bigger than ourselves and there’s no shortage of motivation and certainly no shortage of belief.

‘We’ve got to win those key moments and we’ve got to do the basics a hell of a lot better.’

Tom Wright (left) fends off Makazole Mapimpi and looks to offload during Australia's loss

Tom Wright (left) fends off Makazole Mapimpi and looks to offload during Australia’s loss

That being said, injury blows didn’t help Australia; losing centre Hunter Paisami and five-eighth Noah Lolesio to head knocks, while impact bench prop Taniela Tupou never entered the fray after a calf injury sustained while warming up. 

Slipper wasn’t having any excuses however, and the ‘hurt’ Wallabies skipper said he gathered the side together on the field after the match to ensure everyone understood just how disappointing the loss was – and use it as motivation.

‘I just wanted the boys to realise how much it hurts and hold on to that really and let that drive you into the future,’ he said after the game.

‘This one has to hurt a lot, I want the boys to hurt because, yes, South Africa were good, but I just felt like we didn’t really play much rugby at all.

‘Them winning the collision really hurts me,’ said Slipper.

James Slipper gathers the Wallabies side on the field after the loss to ensure the team can use the defeat as motivation

James Slipper gathers the Wallabies side on the field after the loss to ensure the team can use the defeat as motivation

Many rugby fans were scathing not just of the Wallabies performance, but the stop-start nature of the game which saw a penalty blown almost every three minutes by referee Ben O’Keeffe.

‘A game like this turns Wallabiesfans away from the sport – let alone casual viewers. Stoppages every 20 seconds. Constant kicking a ref who can’t let the game flow,’ wrote one fan on Twitter.

One prominent journalist said the Springboks ‘battered (the) Wallabies into submission’, while another simply wrote Australia’s performance was ‘woeful’. 

All four completed two-game Rugby Championship series to date have ended 1-1, despite being played in one country rather than home and away; in what has quickly become a topsy-turvy tournament. 

The Wallabies will now head into their two-Test Bledisloe Cup series with all four sides on 2-2 records.

They’ll need to break their 20-year Bledisloe Cup drought to win the title, but Slipper implored his teammates to come back to work determined to make history.

Pete Samu scores a try for Australia at the end of the Wallabies' loss to the Springboks

Pete Samu scores a try for Australia at the end of the Wallabies’ loss to the Springboks

‘It doesn’t get any easier. We’re going into the Bledisloe now, it’s going to be two tough games coming up. We’ll pick ourselves up. We’ve got a good group here and we’ll rip in,’ said a determined Slipper.

Australia will host New Zealand at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne for the first game on September 15, before heading across the ditch to take on the Kiwis at Eden Park on September 24.



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