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‘Mind blowing’ Marika’s magic moments deliver Wallabies epic win over Springboks

Marika Koroibete produced a monumental all round display, including a tackle that will be replayed and celebrated for years, as the Wallabies continued their home dominance over South Africa at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

The Boks managed two late try to deny Australia a bonus point but the Springboks remain without a win in Australia since 2013 after the Wallabies 25-17 victory.

Fraser McReight scored two tries and Koroibete got one of his own with a brilliant piece of attacking play. But it was Koroibete’s first half try-saver on rival winger Makazola Mapimpi in the first half that will be the lasting memory of this match.

Makazole Mapimpi of the Springboks is tackled by Marika Koroibete of the Wallabies during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and the South African Springboks at Adelaide Oval on August 27, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Makazole Mapimpi of the Springboks is tackled by Marika Koroibete of the Wallabies. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Slow starts have been a massive problem for the Wallabies and they responded to their coach’s demand to address the issue in emphatic fashion. Retaining the ball from the kick off it wasn’t long before Rob Valetini made a strong carrying down the right flank.

Nic White was on the scene quickly and Folau Fainga’a surged on towards the line before he was chopped down short. Again White responded and his sharp pass allowed Fraser McReight to burst over for the opening try with one minute, two seconds on the clock.

With five minutes gone the lead was 10-0 as Noah Lolesio potted a penalty from almost in front and inside the Boks’ 22.

Justin Harrison lauded new Wallabies assistant coach Laurie Fisher for the fast start.

“Laurie Fisher already having a telling impact, 10 minutes into this first half. Precision at the breakdown, the pace the Wallabies is playing with is because of their precision and attention to detail at the breakdown,” said Harrison.

But the Boks swung the momentum back their way along with the helpful whistle of referee Paul Williams.

Handre Pollard, having one of his rare cold days, missed two relatively easy attempts at the posts but the warning signs were there and on 17 minutes the visitors started making strong inroads, through the hard running of locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager.

The Boks were taking a chokehold and it was desperation times for the Australians. Frans Malherbe was giving James Slipper a work out in the set piece and Faf De Klerk was making a pest of himself.

“This is playing right into the Springboks hands,” said Harrison. “This is the power game we know – going from set piece to set piece, controlling the pace of the game, taking away some of the momentum and energy and enthusiasm the Wallabies have got. The Springbok team are muscling their way back into this game.”

From a third penalty Pollard chose to kick for the line and Tom Wright ended up in the bin for being too quick to shut down a quick tap from Duane Vermeulen.

Ox Nche burrowed over the line but was held up and from the ensuing scrum Australia won a key penalty on their line, celebrating it like a try as Matt Philip and Rory Arnold piled on the pressure from the second row.

The South African attack and possession was oppressive but the enormous pressure was relieved in one moment of brutal defence by Koroibete.

After five successive close range penalties, the Boks were able to spin the ball wide, Lukhanyo Am throwing a perfect pass to Makazola Mapimpi.

Koroibete, tearing across from the opposite wing to make up for Wright’s absence, t-boned the Boks winger, sending him into orbit. The Adelaide Oval stands shook from the roar of disbelief.

“Unbelievable, defence from the Wallabies,” said Allana Ferguson on Stan Sport. “They had to absorb so much pressure but the jerseys kept turning up. Marika Koroibete to save that try was mind blowing. That will be in the history books forever.”

Sonny Bill Williams added: “Fresh off the back of a man of the series against England, today’s been no different. They need players to step up. Especially with the injury toll that the Wallabies are faced with. And he’s done that. We’ll call him the Fijian flying bullet today.”

“Everything he does is done with intensity,” added Drew Mitchell. “He came from the far left wing, covered all the way across because, of course, Tom Wright, the right winger, had a yellow card at the time.”

Harrison was raving too.

“That is what we want to see players doing when they get a Wallabies jersey on their back,” said the former Wallabies lock. “That is exactly the Australian spirit we’ve come to expect and it’s what the Springboks are having difficulty dealing with.”

If the Kooribete magic wasn’t enough the Boks were rocked in the minute before hal time when De Klerk found himself with a yellow card. He was seemingly trying to swipe the ball from White’s grasp at the back of a scrum but slapped his rival No.9s face instead. White took a theatrical fall, and seemed to enjoy milking it for the world to see.

The Australian lineout was an issue through the first half and they tried to fix it in the break, but lost their first throw after the break.

But that was ultimately a quibble as Australia went on with the job.

Koroibete crossed after a stunning display of shimmering feet left Handre Pollard embarrassed.

“They call that the the ankle breaker,” said Andrew Mehrtens. “The sniper on Handre Pollard from up high in the roof of Adelaide Oval, Marika, that is inspirational stuff.”

There was more to come, Lolesio’s brazen reverse flick pass sending McReight over for a second that pushed the score to 5-3 and allowed Rennie to make wholesale changes on 64 minutes.

Koroibete got an early mark as well, coming off to raptourous applause and hugs from his teammates.

Mehrtens was asked if the big winger was his man of the match.

“He’s my man of the century,” Mehrtens laughed.

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