South Africa beat Australia 28-8 to set up a Rugby Championship title decider against New Zealand, which takes a five-point lead into the competition’s final round after scoring four tries in a 33-15 win against Argentina.
Adriaan Strauss, Zane Kirchner and Willie Le Roux touched down as the Springboks outscored the Wallabies three tries to one yesterday in Cape Town. Fly-half Morne Steyn kicked three penalties and two conversions in his 50th Test for South Africa.
Winger Ben Smith ran in two tries for the All Blacks in La Plata, including a last-minute solo effort to secure the bonus point for scoring at least four tries. The Springboks will need to win with a bonus point in Johannesburg on Oct. 5 to have any chance of securing the southern hemisphere championship.
“They’re going to have to play now,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said in a televised interview. “They’ve got to get four tries and five points and that’ll suit us as much as it’ll suit them. We’ve just got to recover well from this game.”
New Zealand tops the standings with 23 points going into the final match ahead of South Africa, which has a superior points differential, on 18.
The All Blacks secured all five competition points in the final minute after they were awarded a penalty on the Argentina 22-meter line and kicked for the corner. New Zealand controlled the lineout ball and replacement scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow passed to Smith, who beat the tackles of Felipe Contepomi and Nicolas Sanchez to score under the posts.
New Zealand led 11-9 at half time on Julian Savea’s 60-meter breakaway try and two penalties from Aaron Cruden. Sanchez booted three penalties to keep the home team close.
Marcelo Bosch’s 52-meter penalty put the Pumas a point ahead in the 43rd minute before Cruden kicked his third penalty. Openside flanker Sam Cane and Smith then scored tries four minutes apart as the All Blacks upped the pace to take a 26-12 lead and set themselves up to chase the bonus point.
“That could be crucial,” All Blacks captain Kieran Read said of Smith’s bonus-point try. “We worked hard for that and were lucky to get there right at the end. It’s going to be a big match next week. We’ve got to recover well.”
In Cape Town, South Africa took control by scoring 23 unanswered points after Christian Leali’ifano’s penalty put Australia ahead. Hooker Strauss went over from close range for the opening try and full-back Kirchner finished off a long-range attack two minutes later. Steyn converted both tries and booted three penalties to make it 23-3 at half time.
Winger Le Roux went over in the corner in the 71st minute before Chris Feauai-Sautia scored a consolation try for Australia in his Test debut. The Wallabies’ fourth loss in their first tournament under new head coach Ewen McKenzie leaves them with four points, two more than winless Argentina.