PERTH - South Africa survived having two men sent to the sin bin in the second half, to earn a 14-14 draw with Australia in an uncompromising Tri-Nations test in Perth.

It was the first draw in Tri-Nations history and means Australia remain on top of the standings. The Wallabies have seven points, one more than South Africa, while New Zealand are on four points having played one fewer match.

The Springboks lost first five-eights Butch James for a dangerous tackle and captain Bobby Skinstad for using his hands in a ruck under his own posts in a tense match, in which defences dominated.

The South Africans held the lead throughout the second half after a try on the stroke of the interval by lock Mark Andrews.

Andrews wriggled his way over in the right hand corner to separate the sides after an opening 39 minutes in which the only scores had been a penalty apiece.

The Springboks held onto the lead until there were only nine minutes remaining. They lost James 15 minutes into the half, but the Wallabies did not close the gap until he had returned.

Two minutes after James' return Skinstad followed him to the sin bin when he was penalised for playing the ball in a ruck allowing Wallaby fullback Matt Burke to kick the penalty to make it 6-8 with 13 minutes remaining.

Braam van Straaten reopened the lead with his second penalty shortly afterwards, but Wallaby centre Nathan Grey powered over from close range after the 14-man Springbok defence had been scattered by a succession of drives.

Burke could not convert to give his side the lead back for the first time since the 10th minute, and the scores remained locked at 11-11.

Van Straaten responded again with his third penalty with five minutes remaining, but Burke slotted his third from the close range to level the scores for a second time.

Australia were on the attack when the final hooter sounded and Wallaby first-five Stephen Larkham attempted to reprise his World Cup semifinal clinching drop goal of 1999 from 40 metres but the ball slid wide.

After the match Springbok captain Bob Skinstad and coach Harry Viljoen lashed out at New Zealand referee Steve Walsh for "marking" James.

"Did you see the replay? There was nothing wrong with that tackle," said Viljoen in reference to James's tackle on George Smith that incurred the wrath of the Kiwi. James was cautioned twice earlier in the game for his tackling.

But the Bok camp was having none of it. "From what I heard it was said to him before the game 'watch your tackles'," added the Springbok coach. Viljoen declined to name the official, but it was a clear criticism of Walsh.

"I think Butch has been marked," an irate Skinstad said afterwards. "I think it's completely unfair on a developing player like him to be singled out like that. Butch played much better. I thought his attacking was outstanding. It's unfortunate that he was marked, otherwise he could have grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck like it looked he was doing for parts of the game."

The Australians had some strong words of their own, with captain John Eales having a go at his opposite number after his final test against the Springboks.

"When you see a captain infringing like that, there is no doubting the intentions of the team," Eales fumed.

Ironically, Walsh's performance was also heavily criticised by Wallaby coach Eddie Jones, who felt the yellow cards should have come earlier.

"There are rules about consistent infringements at the tackle. They should be applied from the first minute," Jones said.

Australia 14 (Nathan Grey try, Matt Burke 3 penalties)

South Africa 14 (Mark Andrews try, Braam van Straaten 3 penalties)

Halftime: South Africa 8-3.

- REUTERS and INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS (SOUTH AFRICA)

All Blacks 2001 test schedule/scoreboard