An embarrassing Wallabies outfit suffered their worst Test loss of all time in the Tri-Nations clash at Ellis Park today, a rampant South Africa running in eight tries to thrash Australia 53-8.
The 45-point difference surpassed Australia’s previous worst losing margin of 39 points, also suffered at the hands of South Africa, in Pretoria in 1997.
Winger Jongi Nokwe scored four tries as the backs-to-the-wall Boks, fiercely criticised all week by the local media after straight losses at home, outgunned the Australians in all departments to have their 34,291 fans partying by halftime.
A hat-trick before the break from the flying winger had all but ended the Wallabies’ dream of making history in the Republic with back-to-back wins for the first time in 45 years and helped the Boks go to the sheds up 27-3.
Any thoughts of a spirited Australian turnaround in the second half were soon extinguished when Adrian Jacobs went on a blistering run to the line five minutes after the break to make it 34-3.
And when Nokwe finished a grubber to score his fourth in the 50th minute, the only history that looked like being made by Australia was in the area of biggest losses.
Coach Robbie Deans began hooking players, with high profile run-on debutant Timana Tahu pulled in the 52nd minute.
A Drew Mitchell consolation try in the 57th minute brought it back to 39-8 but Australia’s case of the dropsies continued against a Boks side full of running and Ruan Pienaar scored a classy individual try in the 69th minute for 46-8 before Odwa Ndungane iced the cake a minute from time.
A big, altitude-enhanced kicking game from the Boks, and fumbles, soft defence in the centre and poor lineout throwing from Australia had helped South Africa to early dominance.
The Boks came up with points after their first period of sustained pressure when fullback Conrad Jantjes showed his classy footwork before sending giant No.4 Andries Bekker over out wide, the conversion making it 7-3 after eight minutes.
It took the Boks only four more minutes to get their second, a quick tap from Fourie du Preez sending Nokwe diving into the left corner for 12-3.
Australia tried to play catch-up but the Boks’ stiff defence, crunching work at the breakdown and massive kicks snuffed out anything the visitors had to offer.
The South Africans seemed to be able to create overlaps on the left at will and Nokwe crossed in the 26th and 36th minutes to complete his first 40 hat-trick.
The Wallabies will need a massive improvement to be any chance of wresting the Tri-Nations title from New Zealand when they meet in Brisbane on September 13.
Read Spiro Zavos’s analysis of the match on The Roar, first thing Monday morning.