Pretoria witnessed a stunning display of rugby prowess as South Africa’s Kurt-Lee Arendse scored three remarkable tries, leading his team to a resounding 43-12 victory over Australia in the first match of the Rugby Championship season. Despite missing several key players who were acclimatizing for a future clash with the All Blacks, the understrength Springboks proved their mettle on home soil.
The electric atmosphere at Loftus Versfeld stadium fueled Arendse’s exceptional performance, earning him the well-deserved title of the man of the match. Expressing his delight, the 27-year-old winger shared, “It was really special to play in front of an amazing Loftus Versfeld crowd and get a win.” Arendse acknowledged the crucial role played by the forward pack in providing the necessary momentum for the team’s success.
Playing on his home ground for the Bulls in club rugby, Arendse expressed his pride in contributing to the collective effort of the Springboks. The team had meticulously prepared for their encounter with Australia, and their hard work paid off splendidly on the field. The talented winger conveyed his gratitude and honor in representing his country at such a high level.
South Africa’s victory continued their flawless record against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld, securing their eighth consecutive triumph over their opponents. With a halftime lead of 17-5, the Springboks demonstrated their dominance throughout the match. While Australia managed to bookend the scoring with tries from Marika Koroibete and Carter Gordon, their ill-discipline in the second half, resulting in two penalty tries, proved costly.
For Eddie Jones, Australia’s coach, it was a nightmarish start to his second stint, following a challenging year where the team lost nine out of thirteen international matches. Prior to the game, he had belittled the South African side as “half baked” due to their decision to send many star players to New Zealand for acclimatization ahead of the upcoming clash against the All Blacks. However, Jacques Nienaber, the Springboks’ coach, had the last laugh, as his weakened team showcased their strength by commencing the season with an impressive victory.
Both the spectators at Loftus Versfeld and viewers around the world were treated to an unexpectedly wide margin of victory. Australia began the scoring on a chilly winter evening, with Koroibete finding the try line, but Reece Hodge failed to convert. South Africa swiftly responded, with Manie Libbok successfully slotting a penalty kick to put the home team on the scoreboard.
Arendse’s first try on the 16th minute shifted the momentum in favor of the Springboks. With skillful play and teamwork, South Africa turned the five-point deficit into a five-point lead within eight minutes. Hodge’s missed long-range penalty attempt before halftime further dampened Australia’s hopes of a comeback.
In the second half, South Africa tightened their grip on the match, firmly asserting their control. Arendse’s exceptional skills shone once again as he completed his hat-trick by skillfully evading three defenders to score. Two penalty tries further extended South Africa’s lead to 36-5 with a quarter of the match remaining.
Pieter-Steph du Toit powered his way over the try line for the Springboks’ sixth try, successfully converted by Libbok. Australia managed a late consolation try through substitute Gordon, who also converted it. However, it was too little, too late for the visitors.
The Rugby Championship’s first round will continue with Argentina hosting defending champions and record eight-time title-holders, New Zealand, in Mendoza later on Saturday. The thrilling start to the tournament has set the stage for intense battles between the top rugby nations, promising an exciting season ahead.