When things go bad in sport, they are liable to get worse. The battling Wallabies were such a victim in their latest Tri-Nations test against the Springboks.

Losing five-eighths Elton Flatley to blurred vision 10 minutes before the start was disastrous and then towards the end, having scrabbled their way back into the lead, the Wallabies lost a tight and ultimately fatal decision.

They built waves of pressure in the Boks 22 before Mat Rogers lost the ball forward. As he went to retrieve it, Springbok fullback Percy Montgomery appeared to also knock the ball on before he regathered.

None of the officials noticed the blemish, the ball went wide and new rocket man Bryan Habana scored his second try, 75m downfield.

Three straight wins for the Boks and they arrive today in Dunedin, where an historic triumph against the All Blacks in that city will also mean the visitors will retain the Tri-Nations title.

While the Wallabies could decry their luck and you could sympathise with frustrated coach Eddie Jones, the simple facts are that the Wallabies and All Blacks have been unable to overcome the men in green.

South Africa's plan has scarcely varied all series. Coach Jake White has made minor alterations but his tactical template has remained - he has found a pattern which suits him and the players.

The Springboks use a huge defensive umbrella to create pressure on their opponents and the referee, they kick for territory where they back their tackling or look to their lineout leapers, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Joe van Niekerk, to win turnovers.

The Wallabies have foundered twice against that formula, although their attacking plans were too one-dimensional in midfield. They made more linebreaks than the Boks in Perth but were eventually mopped up.

The All Blacks, with a significant amount of possession, were unable to crack the Boks at Newlands. By one count they made 20 breaks to the Boks four but South Africa won on the back of their defence.

Same in Perth, where South Africa made more than 200 tackles to the Wallabies 90, and possession was 60-40 to the Wallabies.

Andre Pretorius, Jaco van der Westhuizen, when he came on, and Montgomery were not afraid to kick out or downtown, where they backed their lineout, rush defence or forced the Wallabies to use a kick return.

As soon as the Wallabies got to attack in midfield their options to spread the ball wide were cut off by wings Breyton Paulse, Habana or centre Jacque Fourie. That fishhook defence spooked the Wallabies, who could not find space for Lote Tuqiri or Rogers. Instead they were forced to bash it up through David Lyons, Morgan Turinui or Clyde Rathbone, standard targets for the Boks.

Referee Alain Rolland and his officials did not get to grips totally with some of the offside and the impact it had on the game.

Whether this Saturday's official Joel Jutge is any sharper may be a lottery, although he had a strong first test in the Lions series. The All Blacks will know all this. They have been given enough warning and footage about the Springboks' style and the passion they have brought to this year's Tri-Nations.

Understanding it and implementing a counter is six days away.