The Wallabies have lost 35-17 to the Springboks at Ellis Park, continuing their 56-year hoodoo in Johannesburg partly due to Herschel Jantjies’ electric debut in their Rugby Championship opener.
Australia were looking for their first win in Johannesburg since 1963, and with the Springboks fielding a weakened side on Saturday night, had a golden opportunity.
But despite some strong individual performances, again they fell short.
Springboks livewire halfback Herschel Jantjies scored a try in each half in a memorable Test debut.
The Wallabies were in the hunt early but two blown tries in the first half proved crucial.
They trailed 14-10 at halftime after a try by back-rower Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was denied after the last pass from Samu Kerevi was ruled forward.
Winger Dane Haylett-Petty, who scored their opening try, could have added a second and given his team the lead but fumbled the ball over the line as he dived on it.
Skipper Michael Hooper then bizarrely turned down a penalty kick from right in front of the sticks which would have closed the gap to just one point.
While behind on the scoreboard there was a lot to like about the Wallabies first half, with the excellent defence and some creative attack that challenged the Springboks when they went wide.
But the second half didn’t go to plan, with Australia losing veteran prop James Slipper to a head knock which gave rookie Harry Johnson-Holmes his first cap.
Fellow prop Taniela Tupou was then yellow-carded for a dangerous clean-out and momentum swung back with the home side.
Winger S’busiso Nkosi touched down before Jantjies snatched the ball from the back of the ruck and darted down the sideline to score with the conversion pushing the lead out to 28-10.
Wallabies veteran Kurtley Beale showed some neat footwork to set up a try for Bernard Foley but the home side were in full control.
They added their fifth of the night after full time through Cobus Reinach for a convincing win.