PRETORIA: The Wallabies were smashed up and spat out by the Springboks, thrashed five tries to one while suffering a horrendous injury toll at Loftus Versfeld this morning.
With Springbok winger Bryan Habana enjoying a hat-trick of tries in their 31-8 shellacking, the Wallabies were never a chance of experiencing their first victory in Pretoria, as they were outclassed in every area.
Now the Wallabies are wondering if they will have enough fit players for tomorrow's flight to Argentina and next weekend's Test against the Pumas in Rosario after losing fullback Berrick Barnes (chest), centre Adam Ashley-Cooper (concussion), No 8 Radike Samo (shoulder), winger Digby Ioane (kneecap) and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (shoulder). Several of these injuries looked serious, which will force the Wallabies selectors to call for reinforcements from home.
In the end, the Wallabies finished the game with just 14 men, as referee Alain Rolland would not allow Polota-Nau to be replaced by Saia Faingaa, as Australia had already used seven substitutions after prop Benn Robinson, who had earlier been replaced, returned to the field.
This led to the game ending in a fiasco, with uncontested scrums and Robinson even having to throw the ball into a lineout as the Wallabies had no hooker on the field.
It was a diabolical night for the Wallabies. Before kickoff they had to change their reserves contingent, after Scott Higginbotham was forced out because of his back strain, which saw Mike Harris move onto the bench.
Then the Wallabies found themselves perched in their own half for almost all of the first 40 minutes, struggling to ward off South African charge after charge, and were lucky to be down by 14-3 at the break. The scoreline could have easily been worse, especially as the Springboks missed four of their first five shots at goal. The Springboks were far more desperate than the visitors, and it was no surprise that they scored two first half tries, and had two others disallowed.
In between fullback Berrick Barnes was forced off with a chest injury, and then centre Adam Ashley-Cooper had to be stretchered off after being knocked out while attempting to stop Springbok winger Zane Kirchner charging for the corner.
The Kirchner try was not awarded, but the Test was held up for several minutes after medical staff attended to Ashley-Cooper, who was sprawled on the pitch.
It was real desperation time for the Wallabies, who were struggling to make any impact in the game, with the pressure definitely getting to them midway during the half when Kirchner and winger Bryan Habana found the line in quick succession.
In contrast, the Wallabies never got anywhere near the Springbok tryline early, and on the rare occasion they got into their half, it wasn't for long. The Australian ball was lost at the breakdown, or the Wallabies were penalised for not releasing at the tackle.
It didn't get much better in the second half, with Wallabies player after player being forced off the ground due to serious injuries, and then falling apart during the ten minutes their backup prop James Slipper was sent to the sinbin for a professional foul.
While Slipper was a spectator, Springboks backrower Francois Louw scored following a devastating South African rolling maul, followed by Habana finding the line for a second time against a disjointed Wallabies defence.
Habana completed his tryscoring hat-trick just before full-time. The only moment of joy for the Wallabies came in the 66th minute when replacement Mike Harris scored after being put into space by five-eighth Kurtley Beale.
Beale had his moments at five-eighth, while flanker Michael Hooper tried all night. However the Wallabies were never close to being a contender.
SOUTH AFRICA 31 (Bryan Habana 3, Zane Kirchner, Francois Louw tries Ruan Pienaar 3 cons) bt AUSTRALIA 8 (Michael Harris try Kurtley Beale pen) at Loftus Versfeld. Referee: Alain Rolland.