Arendse scores three tries as South Africa crush Australia

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Kurt-Lee Arendse scored a hat-trick of tries as understrength South Africa crushed Australia 43-12 in Pretoria on Saturday in the first match of the Rugby Championship season.

“It was really special to play in front of an amazing Loftus Versfeld crowd and get a win,” said the slightly built 27-year-old winger after receiving the man of the match award.

“We knew the first 20 minutes were going to be really tough, but the forwards gave us a bit of momentum.

“It is always special to play at Loftus because this is where I play my club rugby for the Bulls and I was proud to contribute to a great Springbok team effort.

“We prepared well for Australia and at the end of the day all our pre-match efforts paid off on the field. I am grateful and honored to represent my country.”

The bonus-point triumph maintained the perfect record of the Springboks against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld as they notched up an eighth straight victory having led 17-5 at half-time.

Australia opened and closed the scoring with tries from Marika Koroibete and Carter Gordon, but South Africa recovered quickly in the first half and dominated the second.

Ill discipline cost the Wallabies dearly after half-time as David Porecki and Suliasi Vunivalu were sent to the sin bin having conceded penalty tries.

It was a nightmare start for Eddie Jones in his second spell as coach of Australia, who lost nine of 13 internationals last year.

He labelled the South Africa side “half baked” before the match because they sent many of their stars to New Zealand ahead of the game to acclimatise for a July 15 clash with the All Blacks.

But opposite number Jacques Nienaber had the last laugh having predicted during the week that his weakened side would be good enough to start the season with a victory.

  • Hodge fluffs kicks –

However, neither Nienaber, the 50,089 crowd, nor thousands watching on TV would have imagined victory could be achieved by such a wide margin.

Australia were first to score on a chilly winter evening as a passing movement set up Koroibete to brush off Andre Esterhuizen and score in the corner. Reece Hodge failed to convert.

Manie Libbok, whose kick dropped just short with an ambitious penalty attempt from his half, succeeded with his second effort closer to the posts and South Africa were on the scoreboard.

Arendse scored his first try on 16 minutes to put the Springboks ahead as pressure pushed the Wallabies back and when the ball went wide, the winger had the simple task of dotting down.

Libbok converted and, within eight minutes, the reigning world champions had turned a five-point deficit into a five-point advantage.

Hodge was wide with a long-range penalty shot before Arendse struck again. He darted down the blindside to score and a Libbok conversion sailed between the post for a 17-5 lead.

Australia had a chance to reduce arrears after the hooter sounded to signal the end of the first half, but Hodge failed again, with his 66-metre shot falling short.

Instead of an Australian recovery in the second half, South Africa took control and Arendse completed his hat-trick on 51 minutes by wriggling past three defenders to score.

Then came two penalty tries which left South Africa 36-5 ahead with a quarter of the match still to be played.

Pieter-Steph du Toit barged over for a sixth Springbok try, converted by Libbok, before substitute Gordon snatched a late consolation try which he converted.

The first round continues later Saturday when Argentina host defending champions and record eight-time title-holders New Zealand in Mendoza.



©️ Agence France-Presse

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