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Olympics2000

Saturday, 26 August, 2000, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
Stirling kick seals Tri-Nations
Chester Williams knocks Joe Roff off balance
Chester Williams knocks Joe Roff off balance
South Africa 18-19 Australia

Stirling Mortlock kicked a penalty from the sideline right on full-time to hand Australia their first Tri-Nations crown at Durban's King's Park.

After being dominated by the home side throughout the match, the world champions hung on to stay in touch even when Braam van Straaten kicked a penalty to put the hosts two points ahead with only four minutes left.

Despite their wealth of possession the Springboks had failed to put the match beyond the grasp of the Wallabies and paid the ultimate price.

Mortlock, whose poor kicking cost his ACT Brumbies side the Super 12 title, slotted the match-winning goal after Australia had launched their final attack of the game.

The win secured the visitors the Tri-Nations crown and in doing so became the first side ever to win both the southern hemisphere title and the World Cup in the same year.

Matt Cockbain
Cockbain was sin-binned in the seond-half
But the Springboks had threatened to disrupt the Australian party despite being beaten twice already this season by the world champions.

They hounded the visitors into errors and dominated the second half.

Van Straaten landed four penalties after the interval to pull the hosts close after an indiscretion by Matt Cockbain had reduced the Wallabies to 14 men.

Cockbain, less than 30 seconds after coming onto the field, landed three or four blows on a prone Rassie Erasmus to be sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.

The impressive Erasmus was at the centre of the Springbok effort, and as tensions rose, the tempers became frayed and referee Paul Honniss was hard-pressed to keep a lid on the match as it threatened to explode on a few occasions.

  Scoreboard
South Africa 18 Pens: Braam van Straaten (6)
Australia 19 Try: Chris Latham; Con: Stirling Mortlock. Pens: Mortlock (4)
After trailing at the break the Springboks emerged breathing fire and held onto the ball for the best part of 30 minutes.

The Springbok pack held the upper hand which helped them dictate terms and put Australia under pressure but they lacked an incisive edge to puncture the Wallaby defence.

They attempted pop kicks and grubber kicks in an attempt to break the line but despite their variety they could find no way through.

They only way they looked likely to edge the match was through Van Straaten's boot and his 51-yard monster just before time looked to have given the home side their second win in successive weeks.

The Wallabies had taken a first-half lead through full-back Chris Latham scored a try two minutes from the break to hand them the lead somewhat against the run of play.

Mortlock

It was Van Straaten who opened the scoring with a penalty after five minutes, but Mortlock replied with two of his own to give the Australians the lead.

Erasmus went close, but the Australian defence held firm and three minutes from time good work by replacement hooker Jeremy Paul led to Latham crossing in the corner.

Mortlock, who had landed the conversion, then kicked another from the sideline to have the final say and give a perfect send-off for the retiring Jason Little, David Wilson and Richard Harry.

"I was not thinking about the championship, just the match. I have been in that situation several times and missed during the last couple of years," Mortlock admitted.

Captain John Eales, who landed the optional-time penalty that defeated the All Blacks in New Zealand last month, said it came as no surprise that the match was extremely physical.

"It is always a lot more difficult playing South Africa away than at home and we knew only a special effort would bring us victory this evening," the giant lock conceded.

For South African skipper Andre Vos, who had to retire injured at half-time, defeat was a very bitter pill to swallow.

Outstanding

"The Australians are a fantastic team, very tough and very organised. I thought our guys were outstanding, especially during the second half," Vos said.

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See also:

26 Aug 00 |  Rugby Union
Macqueen admits, 'It was tough'
25 Aug 00 |  Rugby Union
Wallabies keen to end drought
22 Aug 00 |  Rugby Union
Springboks make one change
 |  Rugby Union
Tri-Nations 2000
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