South Africa and Australia played to their second draw in this year’s Rugby Championship, 27-27 this time, ensuring New Zealand retained its southern hemisphere title on Saturday with two games to spare.
The Springboks and Wallabies scored three tries each at Free State Stadium, with Boks fly-half Elton Jantjies missing a last-minute penalty to win a seesaw game in which the lead went back and forth throughout the second half.
That breathless second half began with four tries in 10 minutes, two to each side.
The result meant New Zealand can’t be caught by second-placed South Africa in the championship, and clinches a 15th title overall and sixth crown in the last eight years. New Zealand was confirmed 2017 champions before playing Argentina later Saturday in its penultimate match.
In Bloemfontein, rugby league convert Marika Koroibete scored two tries in his second test and first start for the Wallabies but came dangerously close to giving the game away when he conceded the late penalty that opened the door for South Africa.
From wide out on the left, Jantjies pulled his kick across the posts.
Australia lost the territory stakes but were efficient and clinical when they made chances.
Ruan Dreyer, Jan Serfontein, and Courtnall Skosan went over for the Springboks, but they couldn’t do enough to clinch the win they desperately wanted after a 57-0 humiliation in New Zealand two weeks ago.
Ruan Dreyer touches down to score for South Africa (Getty)
Jantjies kicked 12 points, as did Australia No 10 Bernard Foley.
And as with their 23-23 draw in Perth three weeks ago, neither team could find the killer blow. Australia still haven’t won in South Africa since 2011, and neither team has won away from home in the last eight tests between them.
It was one of Australia’s best chances in years to succeed in South Africa.
Full-back Israel Folau carved through South Africa’s backline in the 11th minute off a set move and an inside pass from Foley. South…