Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Springboks wallop Wallabies at packed Loftus: Five key talking points

Kurt-Lee Arendse was the big star with a hat trick of tries while the Wallabies' ill-discipline cost them dearly.

The Springboks put in a dazzling second half performance to absolutely smash the Wallabies 43-12 in the opening game of the Rugby Championship at a packed Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

A decent first half showing saw the hosts take a 17-5 lead into the halftime break, with the floodgates opening in the second half as they powered into a 43-5 lead with six minutes to go, before the visitors scored a consolation try after the full time hooter.

Here are five key talking points from the match

Kurt-Lee’s hattrick

Bok wing Kurt-Lee Arendse scored a scintillating hattrick to underline himself as the team’s premier finisher over the past two seasons.

His first came from a superb break from his wing partner Canan Moodie, with the recycled ball finding its way to Arendse to go in at the corner. The second came from a lineout with the Boks going blind and quick hands from hooker Bongi Mbonambi releasing Arendse for his second.

His third was from a good attack, with him needing to beat two defenders and reach over to score, which he did with aplomb.

Hodge’s off night with the boot

Wallabies inside centre Reece Hodge had an off night with the boot that didn’t help his team’s cause. He missed three shots at goal in the first half, the first from wing Marika Koroibete’s try in the corner. The second was a much easier shot from outside the 22m and almost in front, with him hooking the kick.

The third was on the halftime hooter, choosing to take an ill-advised shot at goal from over 65m out in his own half, but despite having the direction his kick was well short. He was then subbed in the 51st minute to end his miserable night.

Manie’s decent showing

It wasn’t a perfect performance, but flyhalf Manie Libbok did more than enough good on the night to warrant another Bok start, possibly in the final game of the Rugby Championship against Argentina at Ellis Park at the end of the month.

He did have a couple of nervy clearances and missed two shots at goal, a penalty from his own half that fell short and touchline conversion that drifted wide, but he was on target with three conversions and a penalty and put in a strong attacking and kicking performance that showed his undeniable talent.

He was alert to seize on a loose ball and go over for a try as well, but it was unfortunately chalked off for a knock on in the build-up.

Esterhuizen’s strong performance

Inside centre Andre Esterhuizen put in a blockbuster performance with some superb running rugby that could have put him in the frame for a Bok World Cup spot. It was a superb showing from the fringe centre, with some brilliant direct running putting the Wallabies under pressure throughout the match.

He made a number of line breaks and metres, smashing through defenders whenever he had the chance, while he also showed his proficiency with the boot, putting in a number of clever grubbers behind the Aussie defence which paid off.

The Wallabies ill-discipline

The Wallabies’ ill-discipline came back to bite them heavily in the second half as the Boks completely dominated the final 40 minutes. Constant pressure from the hosts led to the visitors impeding at important moments, leading to penalty tries and yellow cards.

The first saw a monster Bok maul from a lineout powering towards the tryline pulled down illegally by Wallabies hooker Dave Porecki, leading to a penalty try and yellow card in the 53rd minute. The second was with the Boks on attack deep in the Wallabies 22m, trying to spread the ball wide where Arendse could have been in for a fourth, only for wing Suliasi Vunivalu to stick out a hand and slap the ball down, with the ref going to his pocket again and awarding the seven pointer.

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