Sunday, 8 July 2007

2007 Tri-Nations Championship Thrown Wide Open

The Tri-Nations championship this year has been thrown open by the Wallabies victory over the Boks. The Wallabies managed to squeeze maximum points from home ground advantage and will be severely tested when they play away. The following is a match report from the All Blacks website:


Wallabies trounce White's 'B-side' 'Boks
Sydney Telstra Stadium

The Wallabies have overcome a spirited Springboks side to record an unconvincing 25-17 victory in their Philips Tri Nations clash at Sydney's Telstra Stadium on Saturday night.

South Africa raced to a 14-0 lead with two tries in the first seven minutes before the Wallabies pulled a try back to make it 17-10 at half-time.

Australia was then able to control the match in the second half as it ran in two more tries to send veterans George Gregan and Stephen Larkham off as winners in their final Test match on home soil.

The Springboks opened the scoring in the sixth minute when flanker Wikus Van Heerden took a deft pass from halfback Ruan Pienaar off the back of a ruck close to the Wallabies line and crashed over. First five-eighths Derick Hougaard added the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Just moments after the kick-off, wing Breyton Paulse picked a Nathan Sharpe cut-out pass to Stirling Mortlock and raced 50 metres to score untouched and celebrated with a cartwheel and backflip. Hougaard slotted the conversion to make it 14-0.

The Springboks continued to hold a territorial advantage and a missed long-range drop goal by Pienaar was countered by a successful penalty to Hougaard after Sharpe was caught in an offside position almost directly in front of Wallabies' posts 30m out.

Hougaard missed another one from 45m out just three minutes later after George Smith was caught not releasing the ball.

A penalty that forced hooker Adam Freier to the bloodbin saw the Wallabies finally good in an attacking position in the 21st minute and made the most of it with a slick backline move to see wing Mark Gerrard scoot over for a try.

Gregan took clean lineout ball and drifted across the face of the defence before linking up with Larkham, who popped a ball back on the inside to put Gerrard on an angled run to the tryline. Stirling Mortlock slotted the conversion to make it 17-7.

With the try and some added possession, the Wallabies backline started to look threatening, creating a number of half breaks but were unable to capitalise on the pressure until Mortlock kicked a penalty following a ruck infringement five minutes before half-time.

The Wallabies levelled the scores just after the break when man-of-the-match Stephen Hoiles ran into a yawning gap off a deft Larkham pass.

Mortlock converted to make it 17-17.Mortlock kicked the home side into the lead with a penalty in the 51st minute after another ruck infringement and when Gary Botha earned the referee's whistle three minutes later he was sinbinned.

Just a few moments later the Wallabies scored their third try after they worked play to the wing and inside the Boks' 22m. Gerrard chipped back inside where Giteau sprinted onto the half-volley and dived over for a five-pointer. Mortlock missed the conversion to leave the score at 25-17.

Both sides wrung the changes in the final 20 minutes as the game developed into an arm-wrestle and a missed Hougaard penalty was the only scoring chance.

Wallabies 25 Tries: Gerrard, Hoiles, Giteau
Conversions: Mortlock 2Penalties: Mortlock 2

Springboks 17 Tries: Van Heerden, Paulse
Convsersions: Houghaard 2Penalties: Hougaard

Crowd 51,174 @ Telstra Stadium, Sydney

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