South Africa started their Rugby Championship campaign with a bang as they defeated Australia 35-17 in Johannesburg.
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies enjoyed a dream debut, scoring two tries, while Lood de Jager, S’bu Nkosi and Cobus Reinach also crossed to secure the bonus point.
In reply, the Wallabies’ two tries came via Dane Haylett-Petty and Bernard Foley, with Foley kicking a further three-pointer.
The Springboks were leading 14-10 at the interval in an evenly contested first period, with Australia possibly feeling upset not to be in front.
Defences were on top early on before Nkosi broke down the right wing on 11 minutes and found his scrumhalf Jantjies in support. It was the ideal nerve-settling score for the debutant and his namesake, Elton, added the extras as South Africa moved seven points clear.
Foley cut the lead to four points on 17 minutes after a breakdown offence, and they went close to moving in front soon after as centre Samu Kerevi’s pass to flank Lukhan Salakaia-Loto saw him gallop over. However, the pass was adjudged to have been forward by the TMO.
The Boks were then dealt a blow when centre Andre Esterhuizen was yellow carded for making a high tackle on Tom Banks. However, it did not affect them in the immediate aftermath as Pieter-Steph du Toit’s chip kick over the top led to De Jager burrowing over.
Australia needed to rally and did so on 29 minutes as they used their numerical advantage out wide, where Haylett-Petty finished very well. That was the beginning of a dominant spell in opposition territory for the visitors, but they couldn’t make it count as the half ended 14-10.
The Boks enjoyed the better of the early second-half sparring and came close to extending the lead but for Jantjies’ penalty coming up short. However, they would continue to dominate in the Australian 22, who had lost Taniela Tupou to the sin-bin for a dangerous clear-out.
The pressure eventually told on 56 minutes as quick hands coupled with offloading in contact allowed Nkosi to go over on the right for 21-10.
South Africa were now motoring with Jantjies claiming his brace on 63 minutes, racing in on the blindside of a ruck to make it a 28-10 buffer.
Australia desperately needed the next score and they got it when Kurtley Beale’s break and offload found Foley who went over to cut the gap and with it take the try bonus point away from the Springboks.
But South Africa ultimately managed to reclaim that bonus point in the final play of the game as Reinach darted over to secure the five points, putting down a marker to their Rugby Championship rivals as they head to Wellington where New Zealand lie in wait.
South Africa – Tries: Herschel Jantjies (2), Lodewyk de Jager, Sibusiso Nkosi, Cobus Reinach. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (5). Yellow cards: Andre Esterhuizen.
Australia – Tries: Dane Haylett-Petty, Bernard Foley. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Bernard Foley. Yellow cards: Taniela Tupou.
South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt , 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcel Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds.
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Kurtley Beale.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)