11:30pm By COLIN KENNEDY

Despite the 38-27 scoreline it was a narrow, down to the wire win for the Wallabies over the Springboks in their Tri-Nations clash in Brisbane on Saturday night.

In one of their more memorable games the Wallabies and Springboks slugged it out for 84 minutes in a contest that was full of entertainment and nail-biting finishing.

Australia got off to a roaring start in the first half as they shredded the inexperienced Springbok defence to go up 27-10 through tries from Ben Tune, Stirling Mortlock and Chris Latham. Matthew Burke kicked three conversions and two penalties.

A bewildered Springbok team put up some tawdry defence until a high tackle from fullback Werner Greef sparked a violent brawl between the two teams. Referee Steve Lander sent Australians Jeremy Paul and Justin Harrison to the sin-bin for brawling, while Greef was dispatched in the same direction for the high tackle.

The Boks took advantage of the weakened Wallaby defence when Marius Joubert side-stepped Chris Latham and then turned on the gas as he left the fullback for dead to score the visitors' first try.

Springbok first-five-eighth Andre Pretorius kicked the conversion to give the South Africans their 10 points at the end of the first half.

A far more composed Springbok outfit rattled the Wallabies in the second half with consistent, hard driving play as their forwards repeatedly hammered the Australian pack. Their hard work was rewarded with another Joubert try to make it 17-27.

A Burke penalty managed to keep the Australians safely ahead on 30-17 before the Springboks counter-attacked from deep in their own half to put Bobby Skinstad over for a try. Pretorius's conversion kept the Boks in the hunt on 22-30.

Again the Wallabies kept their distance with a Mortlock penalty before Springbok substitute Brent Russell turned on the gas, picked himself up from an ankle tap and touched down in the corner. Pretorius missed his conversion to leave the score at 33-27.

A sporting decision by Australian skipper George Gregan in the 83rd minute changed the face of the game as the halfback chose to scrum down five metres from the Springbok line.

Gregan could have chosen to kick a penalty to win by 9 points and deny the Boks a bonus point for finishing within 7 points of the Wallabies. However, that would have denied the Aussies a bonus point of their own.

He chose to take the scrum to give his team a crack at a bonus point try. If the South Africans managed to keep them out they would have earned their own bonus point for a close finish. Instead it was Chris Latham who breached the Springbok defence in the 84th minute to dot down in the corner.

Mortlock missed the conversion, but the scoreline didn't matter.

With four tries apiece, the Springboks had given notice that they were back in world rugby and showing heaps of promise. The Wallabies once again demonstrated that when they're at their best, they're simply untouchable.