BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Len Ikitau scored two first-half tries and Marika Koroibete crossed for two in the second half as Australia completed back-to-back victories over World Cup champion South Africa with a 30-17 win on Saturday.
The Wallabies needed a last-minute penalty goal from recalled flyhalf Quade Cooper last Sunday for a 28-26 win on the Gold Coast, but led for most of the match at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and picked up a Rugby Championship bonus point for scoring four tries to one.
It was a memorable win for Michael Hooper to mark his record for most caps as captain of the Wallabies. His 60th test as Australia skipper is one more than former scrumhalf George Gregan’s mark.
The consecutive wins over South Africa netted the Mandela Plate and were a boost for the Australians following three losses to the New Zealand All Blacks, who lead the Rugby Championship ahead of their test later Saturday against Argentina.
The Australians led 15-12 at halftime with Ikitau scoring twice for the Wallabies and Handre Pollard landing four penalties from four attempts.
Both teams gave up a one-man advantage in the opening half, with Springboks scrumhalf Faf de Klerk yellow carded for a cynical foul while the Australians were in an attacking position early and Wallabies flanker Lachie Swinton sin-binned for his shoulder-on-shoulder contact with No. 8 Duane Vermeulen before their heads collided in the 33rd minute.
South Africa went ahead 17-15 less than two minutes into the second half with de Klerk orchestrating the attack. The veteran scrumhalf took a quick tap from a penalty to put the defense on the back foot and later sent a perfectly weighted grubber kick down the blindside from the ruck base for Lukhanyo Am to score the try.
The 33-year-old Cooper, playing in only his second test since 2017, got up after treatment in the 50th after collecting a finger in the eye to kick the penalty goal that restored Australia’s lead, 18-17.
And then winger Koroibete broke open the game with a pair of quick tries.
He crossed in the 62nd after a stunning lead-up work from tighthead prop Taniela Tupou, who surged down the left sideline, drew the defense and then, without looking, passed from his right hand under his left armpit to his flying winger in support.
Cooper converted to make it 25-17 and Koroibete dived into the left corner five minutes later, after a midfield burst from replacement backrower Pete Samu, to give Australia a 13-point lead.
Australia is still in contention in the Rugby Championship, which is into the second week four straight doubleheaders.
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