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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 July, 2003, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
South Africa down Wallabies
Brent Russell (left) was the catalyst for South Africa
Russell (left) was the catalyst for South Africa

South Africa 26-22 Australia

South Africa held off a resurgent Australia to win the opening 2003 Tri-Nations series match in Cape Town.

The home side scored two first-half tries through substitute full-back Brent Russell and lock Victor Matfield as fly-half Louis Koen added 16 points with the boot.

Australia trailed 20-10 at the interval despite a try from Wendell Sailor but they hit back with tries by flanker Phil Waugh and wing Joe Roff to narrow the score.

But indiscipline from the world champions allowed South Africa to maintain their lead as they hung on in a frantic last quarter.

Australia opened the scoring with a Burke penalty on a hot, bone-dry day at Newlands but South Africa responded almost immediately.

Match facts
South Africa 26
Tries: Russell, Matfield
Cons: Koen (2)
Pens: Koen (3)
Drops: Koen
Australia 22
Tries: Sailor, Waugh, Roff
Cons: Burke (2)
Pens: Burke

Full-back Jaco van der Westhuyzen went off injured in the opening exchanges, and his replacement Russell made an instant impression when he scampered over in the right corner in the fifth minute.

After an explosive start, the pace of the game settled down but on 22 minutes Russell again was on hand to make a try-saving tackle on Australian loose-forward Toutai Kefu.

But the relief was shortlived as Australia declined a penalty kick at goal and from the ensuing line-out, put wing Sailor in under the posts.

I hope this victory will instil more self belief among the players
South Africa captain Corne Krige

Burke converted to give Australia the lead before Koen levelled the score with a penalty, shortly after seeing a drop-goal effort drift wide.

Koen extended the lead with another penalty before Russell attempted a break-out from his own half.

The blonde-haired attacker swung right and took with him Stefan Terblanche and De Wet Barry as South Africa's counter gathered pace.

Russell was involved twice before a charging Matfield crowned a stunning move for South Africa's second score on 36 minutes.


Early in the second period Australia captain George Gregan declined another penalty in a kickable position and opted for the corner.

I'm very disappointed, especially with our first half performance
Australia captain George Gregan
From the line-out, Kefu bullocked his way to within yards of the line but the ball was slowed up illegally by Barry, who was sent to the sin-bin.

Australia took a quick tap-penalty and drove Waugh over, with Burke converting to drag his side back to within three points of the Springboks.

But Australia were guilty of squandering their growing momentum with two incidents of indiscipline which Koen punished for a further six points.

If South Africa thought they were done and dusted they were sorely mistaken as Australia hit back on 57 minutes as Roff latched on to an incisive break from Burke for a clinical score.

Australia, though, were unable to make further inroads into the lead and South Africa finished the stronger side.

South Africa's next Tri-Nations match is against New Zealand in Pretoria on 19 July, while Australia meet New Zealand in Sydney on 26 July.

  • Australia winger Lote Tuqiri was charged with punching during the match.

    The ARU said in a statement that Tuqiri had been ordered to appear before a Sanzar (South Africa, Australia and New Zealand Rugby) judiciary hearing to answer a charge of striking before the team leaves Cape Town on Sunday.

    Tuqiri was cited for allegedly striking South Africa prop Rob Kempson in the 62nd minute of the match, just after he had come on to the field to replace Joe Roff.

    South Africa: Jaco van der Westhuyzen; Stefan Terblanche, Marius Joubert, De Wet Barry, Thinus Delport; Louis Koen, Joost van der Westhuizen; Juan Smith, Wikus van Heerden, Corne Krige (captain), Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Richard Bands, Danie Coetzee, Lawrence Sephaka.

    Replacements: Dale Santon, Robbie Kempson, Selborne Boome, Pedrie Wannenburg, Craig Davidson, Gcobani Bobo, Brent Russell.

    Australia: Matt Burke; Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers, Steve Kefu, Joe Roff; Elton Flatley, George Gregan (captain); Toutai Kefu, Phil Waugh, David Lyons, Daniel Vickerman, David Giffin, Patricio Noriega, Brendan Cannon, Bill Young.

    Replacements: Adam Freier, Ben Darwin, Nathan Sharpe, Owen Finegan, Chris Whitaker, Stephen Larkham, Lote Tuqiri.

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