Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby World Cup quarter-final: Wallabies send Springboks packing

James Horwill scores for Australia in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash against South Africa. Photo / Paul Estcourt
James Horwill scores for Australia in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash against South Africa. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Golden boy James O'Connor kicked a late penalty to guide Australia in to the semifinals of the Rugby World Cup after they beat South Africa 11-9 in Wellington tonight.

With the game evenly poised at 9-8 to the Springboks, Danie Rossouw tackled Wallabies' No 8 Radike Samo in the air at a lineout and Australia were awarded a penalty.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man though and O'Connor stepped up and coolly slotted home the long-range penalty in the 72nd minute to knock the defending champions out of the tournament.

South Africa dominated the final eight minutes of the game with plenty of possession but the Wallabies earned their match payments with powerful defence to deny the Boks a chance to get out of jail.

Australia were forced to feed off scraps throughout the game and failed to mount many promising attacks as the South Africans were tough to break down in defence.

David Pocock missed two of Australia's pool games through injury, including the upset loss to Ireland, but his presence couldn't be understated as he was everywhere on the field during the game.

He made 26 tackles and was a demon at the breakdown as he did his best to negate the impact of the powerful South African loose trio and was rightfully named man of the match.

Pocock was well supported in defence by his skipper James Horwill and Rocky Elsom, who both made 22 tackles.

Wallabies' first-five Quade Cooper struggled to assert his dominance on the game and his inconsistent kicking did little to guide his side around the park, while his defence was woeful at best.

With the game on a knife edge during the second spell, South African coach Peter de Villiers went to the bench and brought on replacement hooker Bismarck du Plessis and utility back Francois Hougaard.

The livewire Hougaard and dynamic du Plessis added plenty of vigour to the Springboks' game and they looked a better side with them on the paddock.

South Africa enjoyed a phenomenal 84 per cent territory advantage in the opening 40 minutes, but failed to convert their field position into points.

The Wallabies opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Horwill crashed over the chalk after a rare foray into Springbok territory.

The Boks got on the board in the 39th minute, when Steyn kicked his first penalty goal from close range.

Patrick Lambie was denied a try early in the second spell, after he ran onto a Jean de Villiers pass after the second-five made a stunning break, but the pass was deemed to be forward by referee Bryce Lawrence.

Pat McCabe was a much-debated selection ahead of Berrick Barnes at inside centre, but the Brumbies' No 12 was a rock on defence and was near impossible to break through.

Eventually, McCabe succumbed to a shoulder injury and was replaced by Barnes with about half an hour to play.

Australia 11 (James Horwill try; James O'Connor 2 penalties) def. South Africa 9 (Morne Steyn 2 penalties, dropped goal). HT: 8-3.



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