It turned out to be a fairytale return to the gold shirt for Quade Cooper as he won the game for the Wallabies with the last kick of the game.
Cooper hadn’t played for Australia in over four years, but he didn’t put a foot wrong on his return to test rugby, marshalling the Wallabies’ backline well and converting all eight kicks at goal against South Africa.
The Springboks looked to have completed an impressive comeback through a try in the 72nd minute from Malcolm Marx after trailing by eight points at the break, but Cooper kept a cool head to slot a penalty to win the game with the clock in the red.
IT HAD TO BE HIM ? Quade Cooper knocks over the match winning penalty.
— Stan Sport (@StanSportAU) September 12, 2021
Quade Cooper helps Australia back to their feet.
South Africa were the strong favourites heading into the game against Australia, having come off the back of a series win against the British and Irish Lions and two comfortable wins against Argentina in the Rugby Championship.
Australia, on the other hand, had been convincingly beaten by New Zealand in their last three games, and turned to Cooper to right the ship after underwhelming performances from youngster Noah Lolesio at fly-half.
The Springboks looked to have eked out another narrow victory with their kicking and set-piece oriented game plan, but the Wallabies managed to face up to the visitors’ physicality in a match that didn’t necessarily suit their style of play.
While the Australians didn’t have as much freedom in attack against South Africa as they have had against New Zealand in recent times, they were far more clinical when points were on offer.
Advantage All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.
New Zealand are the only unbeaten side in this year’s Rugby Championship after three rounds, having run rampant in a 39-0 hammering of Argentina earlier this morning.
The All Blacks have secured the maximum haul of 15 points from their first three games, and are now five points ahead of the Springboks in second place.
South Africa may now need to win their remaining three games – one against Australia and two against New Zealand – to win the Rugby Championship, unless Argentina pull off an upset against the All Blacks next weekend.