Rugby Championship 2018: South Africa battle to 23-12 win over Australia
|South Africa (20) 23|
|Tries: Dyantyi, De Klerk Cons: Pollard (2) Pens: Pollard (3)|
|Australia (12) 12|
|Tries: Hodge, Genia Cons: Toomua|
South Africa withstood second-half pressure to beat Australia 23-12 in the Rugby Championship in Port Elizabeth.
But victory was not enough to take the tournament to the final game as New Zealand's bonus-point win in Argentina later on Saturday secured the title.
Aphiwe Dyantyi and Faf de Klerk scored the tries for the Boks, with Handre Pollard kicking two conversions and three penalties.
Australia replied through tries by Reece Hodge and Will Genia.
The visitors forced South Africa onto the back foot for much of the second period but lacked an incisive edge as they fell to a fourth defeat in five games in the competition.
The Championship concludes next Saturday with South Africa facing New Zealand in Pretoria and Argentina hosting Australia in Salta.
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said after the match that his side will need to be more clinical when they play the world champions next week if they hope to repeat their stunning 36-34 victory in New Zealand a fortnight ago.
"If we attack like we did in Wellington, where we scored five tries, it will be fantastic. But I think it won't be that easy," he said.
"I really think the guys showed character tonight and created more chances than we did against the All Blacks. I thought if we scored from one or two more of them it would have been a different story, but there are things we have to improve on.
"If we leave as many opportunities out there next week, it will be a tough game to win."
South Africa scored their first try inside the opening 25 seconds when Australia fly-half Kurtley Beale tried an ambitious pass on his own tryline that Dyantyi intercepted to touch down.
The Boks added a second when Pollard slipped Folau Fainga'a and sent de Klerk clear, but Australia replied when Hodge went over in the corner off a nice pass from Genia, who went over himself minutes later after a smart exchange with Marika Koroibete.
Two Pollard penalties extended the home advantage to 20-12 at the break, and he added another early in the second period before the Boks were forced back.
Australia captain Michael Hooper said: "I'm proud of our guys, they were a bit down after a shaky start.
"South Africa put us under a lot of pressure early. There was a lot of running rugby and it was a good Test match, just not the result we wanted.
"We pushed hard to get the yellow card [for Dyantyi] and when we got it, we needed to capitalise and we couldn't do that. It was a brilliant defensive performance from the South Africans."