Springboks cut down Wallabies at Loftus to start their season in style

Springboks cut down Wallabies at Loftus to start their season in style

The Springboks started their 2023 campaign in ominous fashion as they recorded an utterly dominant 43-12 victory over a wobbly Wallabies outfit in front of 50 000 fans in Pretoria.

Aside from a nervy opening five minutes when they mostly found themselves on the back foot, it was a highly impressive showing by the Springboks, who had the measure of their opponents in virtually all facets of the game. Had it not been for some early-season rust resulting in a few unnecessary errors, the scoreline would have been an even bigger one in favour of the home side.

But there was little to find fault with otherwise and for the defending World Cup champions it was practically the perfect start to their title defence, laying an excellent platform for the season to come.

Impressively, it was also a very disciplined performance, with the Boks barely giving away any penalties all evening - in stark contrast to their opponents, whose long wait for a win at Loftus continues.

Bok flyhalf Manie Libbok had the first attempt at points four minutes in, but his 55m effort was just short. The first points from the Wallabies came soon after.

They moved the ball wide from a lineout play - originally won by the Boks off a Wallaby throw and then lost again - and Marika Koroibete found some open space between himself and the Bok try-line. The conversion was wide, but the Aussies were on the board.

The Springboks started to find some fluency on attack and that forced Australia to try and slow them down, but they did so illegally twice in a row and was penalised. Libbok got his first points on the board 12 minutes in, courtesy of a penalty goal.

From the restart, the Boks were at it again. Canan Moodie made a lovely run on the outside and as the ball was worked back infield and then to the other wing, Arendse found himself with enough space to score without being bothered by a defender. Libbok converted and after 17 minutes the Boks were 10-5 up.

Reece Hodge had an opportunity to cut the deficit with a long-range penalty 25 minutes in, but as with his conversion attempt, the flags stayed down.

Arendse then struck a second time, but where his first effort came from patience in the lead up, this time, a swift and decisive strike from a lineout extended the lead. Marvin Orie won the ball in the air, Marco van Staden came around the front and off-loaded to Bongi Mbonambi who found Arendse with the deftest of passes. The Bok speedster ran in and Libbok converted for a 17-5 lead.

Hodge had a third try, but this time after the half-time hooter, but he came up short from 60m out. The Boks kicked the ball into touch and the end of the first half. The Wallabies would have lamented the Springboks™ discipline as they only conceded two penalties during the whole of the first half, and neither were in easy kicking range.

As the second half began, an excellent kick-chase from an up-and-under handed the Boks some great field possession, but another little mistake prevented the home side from taking full advantage.

The Aussies were struggling to see much of the ball, so when they did finally did get their hands on it, a steal from Steven Kitshoff was not what the doctor ordered.

The Boks opted to kick for the line rather than take the points on offer as they looked to turn the screws on their opponents, but again a wayward line-out throw allowed the Aussies off the hook.

But when the Aussies made a meal of an attempted clearance, the Boks came again, and this time there were no mistakes as beautiful hands from Lukhanyo Am saw the ball find who else but Arendse, who once again showed his deadly finishing skills to score an unbelievable hat-trick in his first match against the Aussies.

The Boks were soon back on the front foot via a penalty and a kick for the corner, and when David Porecki brought down the ensuing rolling maul, things went from bad to worse for the Aussies as they shipped a seven-point penalty try and saw their hooker Porecki binned for 10 minutes to make it 29 unanswered points to the hosts.

Only a TMO intervention saves the Aussies from giving away try number five after Libbok cantered in from a wayward pass, as the pressure kept coming from a rampant Springbok side.

As the match entered its final quarter, the Boks started to bring on some of their impressive replacements, with the likes of Grant Williams, Damian Willemse, RG Snyman and Joseph Dweba making an instant impression.

Having already given away one penalty try and a yellow card, history repeated itself when Wallabies winger Suliasi Vunivalu knocked the ball down with the try-line beckoning, spoiling what was going to be a fourth try for Arendse.

The carnage continued as the Boks launched another assault on the Wallabies' line, resulting in a try for Du Toit who simply had to reach over and score as the Aussies ran out of numbers.

Mercifully, that would be the last score for the Boks, and as time ran out, the beleaguered Aussies were given some reason to smile when Gordon Carter picked up a consolation try on debut.

But nothing could take the shine off a fantastic performance from the home side, who now head to New Zealand with five Rugby Championship points in the bag.