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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 August, 2004, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
SA 23-19 Australia
The Springboks celebrate their first Tri-Nations win since 1998
South Africa: 23
Tries: Matfield, Van Niekerk
Cons: Montgomery 2
Pens: Montgomery 3
Australia: 19
Tries: Tuqiri, Mortlock, Smith
Cons: Giteau 2

South Africa survived a ferocious Australian fightback to win the 2004 Tri-Nations title.

After turning round 7-3 down at half-time a 20-point burst at the start of the second half saw the Springboks within sight of victory.

However, they then had Percy Montgomery sent to the sin-bin and Australia hit back with tries from Sterling Mortlock and George Smith.

The hosts lost a second man, Breyton Paulse, to the bin three minutes from the end but held on to take a stirring victory.

It is the first time South Africa had won the tournament since 1998.

They finish a point clear of Australia, with New Zealand taking the wooden spoon a point further back.

South Africa controlled both possession and territory for the first 20 minutes but they could not break through the committed Australian defence.

Despite their superiority the nearest they came to scoring was a missed Percy Montgomery penalty after 12 minutes.

I asked the guys at half-time to dig really deep and they really made South Africa proud
Boks captain John Smit

Australia's first shot at goal, sent well wide by Matt Giteau, did not come until 25 minutes had elapsed but eight minutes later they took the lead with a simple try.

South African-born winger Clyde Rathbone, now playing for the Wallabies, looked very nervous and had made a couple of basic errors before fashioning the opening score.

The right wing joined the line on the left and stabbed a grubber kick through the South African rush defence.

Lote Tuqiri ran onto the ball untouched and stepped inside the remnants of the defence to cross near the posts. Giteau made no mistake with the conversion.

South Africa finally got some reward for their pressure with a long-range Montgomery penalty on the stroke of half-time but he failed with a very kickable attempt three minutes after the break.

Breyton Paulse (left) and Percy Montgomerie celebrate
Breyton Paulse (left) and Percy Montgomerie celebrate

He was soon give the chance to make amends as he slotted a simple conversion after Breyton Paulse knocked his own up and under back to Victor Matfield.

The athletic second row dummied his way past Gregan and strode over from midway inside the Australian half to give the hosts a 10-7 lead.

Matfield then played a major role in the second Springbok try, throwing a huge pass to set Joe van Niekerk free to cross.

Montgomery's conversion and two subsequent penalties put South Africa well clear with 20 minutes to play but with just over 10 minutes left the full-back, chasing his own kick ahead, took out Chris Latham while the Australian full-back was in mid-air.

Montgomery was shown a yellow card and Australia soon took advantage of the Springboks being a man short as they hammered away before spreading the ball wide for Mortlock to cross untouched.

Giteau converted and South Africa then saw Paulse sent to the bin.

George Smith barged his way over for an unconverted try to bring Australia to within four points but South Africa held out to send the 52,500 crowd in Durban into raptures.

South Africa: Percy Montgomery; Breyton Paulse, Marius Joubert, De Wet Barry, Jean de Villiers; Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Bolla Conradie; Os du Randt, John Smit, Eddie Andrews; Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield; Schalk Burger, AJ Venter, Joe van Niekerk
Replacements: Hanyani Shimange, CJ van der Linde, Gerrie Britz, Jacques Cronje, Fourie du Preez, Gaffie du Toit, Brent Russell

Australia: Chris Latham; Clyde Rathbone, Stirling Mortlock, Matt Giteau, Lote Tuqiri; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan (captain); Bill Young, Brendan Cannon, Al Baxter; Nathan Sharpe, Justin Harrison; George Smith, Phil Waugh, David Lyons.
Replacements: Jeremy Paul, Matt Dunning, Dan Vickerman, John Roe, Chris Whitaker, Matt Burke, Wendell Sailor.

Smit lauds Boks resolve
21 Aug 04 |  Internationals
South Africa 40-26 NZ
14 Aug 04 |  Internationals
Australia 23-18 New Zealand
07 Aug 04 |  Internationals
Australia 30-26 S Africa
31 Jul 04 |  Internationals
NZ 23-21 South Africa
24 Jul 04 |  Internationals
NZ 16-7 Australia
15 Jul 04 |  Internationals

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