The Reuters global sports blog
Tri-Nations waves goodbye to tedious kick-and-chase
Australia’s shock win over South Africa in Saturday’s Tri-Nations breathed new life into a series that was in real danger of fizzling out.
The Wallabies’ 21-6 win not only stalled South Africa’s seemingly unstoppable march to this year’s title but also provided some much needed entertainment.
Most of the previous matches in this year’s series had been reduced to a glorified kicking contest with all three teams resorting to the same tedious kick and chase tactics normally reserved for the nothern hemisphere teams.
In the seven games played by the southern hemisphere giants this series, only once has a team managed to scored four tries to earn a bonus point.
That was a week ago when South Africa beat a woeful Australia 32-25 in Perth, a result the world champions a commanding nine-point lead in the standings.
But just when everything seemed to be over, the combination of South Africa’s comfortable position at the top of the table and Australia’s desperation after losing four on the trot, helped produce a classic match on Saturday.
Although there were just two tries in the match, both scored by the Australians in the last 20 minutes, it was a game full of free-running rugby.
Both teams signalled their intentions from the outset, running the ball from deep inside their own territory, and opting for quick taps rather than the mundane practice of kicking for the line or goal.
Both teams had touchdowns correctly disallowed by the video referee in a frantic opening half while the Australians had a further two five-pointers denied by the upstairs official in the second term.
With the Australians leading just 9-6 in the last quarter of the game it would have been tempting for both sides to slow down the game and revert back to a safer style but to their credit they both continued to attack and the tries eventually came.
Australia fully deserved their win and it has revitalised their series, although they cannot win the title, while leaving the Springboks suddenly facing an anxious trip to New Zealand.
The Springboks still have their nine-point lead but the All Blacks have a game in hand, and a slim chance of pinching the title.
And because they need a bonus point, they have no alternative other than to attack the Springboks next week, hopefully setting the stage for an even better clash at Hamilton next week.
PHOTO: Australian Wallabies’ Will Genia (C) kicks the ball from a maul against the South African Springboks during their Tri Nations rugby union test match in Brisbane September 5, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne