Herschel Jantjies starred with two tries on his South Africa debut as the Springboks overcame Australia 35-17 in the Rugby Championship opener in Johannesburg.
South Africa’s stand-in captain Eben Etzebeth lauded the 23-year-old in the build-up to Saturday’s encounter, and the scrum-half put in an inspired display at Ellis Park.
Having opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Jantjies played a crucial role in South Africa’s second try from Lood De Jager before capping his stirring display with another five-pointer just after the hour.
Dane Haylett-Petty got on the board for Australia, although he missed a golden chance to put the Wallabies in front heading into the break.
And the Springboks made their good fortune count – Taniela Tupou’s yellow card proving costly for Australia as S’busiso Nkosi and Jantjies ran in while the Wallabies were down to 14 – with Cobus Reinach’s late try ensuring a bonus point.
With the tournament shortened to three rounds due to the upcoming World Cup, Australia’s chances of success already look slim, and the pressure seems to be mounting on coach Michael Cheika.
Australia looked in good shape when they forced an early line-out deep in South Africa’s half, but found themselves behind a minute later when Jantjies rounded off a wonderful counter following fine wing play from Nkosi.
— Springboks (@Springboks) July 20, 2019
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto saw a try disallowed as Australia rallied, with the Wallabies handed a boost when Andre Esterhuizen was sent to the sin bin after 20 minutes.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was South Africa who struck next – De Jager forcing the ball down after Jantjies had been hauled down a metre out.
Haylett-Petty exploited a gap in South Africa’s line to reduce the deficit to four points before the half-hour mark, but the Australia winger was later left red-faced when he fumbled what looked to be a simple pick-up on the Springboks line.
34 | SO CLOSE! Haylett-Petty inches from a second try, but can’t quite keep hold of the ball over the line.
— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) July 20, 2019
Australia failed to pick up where they left off following the break and were fortunate when Elton Jantjies – whose kicking had been on point in the first half – failed to convert a penalty.
Tupou’s dangerous lunge during a ruck reduced Australia to 14 men soon after, and South Africa wasted little time in capitalising when Nkosi dived over in the corner before Jantjies helped himself to a second try.
Jantjies was taken off to a standing ovation soon after, and though Bernard Foley’s try and subsequent conversion threatened to make things interesting, Reinach added further gloss to a convincing triumph after the hooter had blown.
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