Taniela Tupou showed his many talents as the Wallabies overcame a lopsided penalty count and another controversial yellow card to beat world champions South Africa for a second-straight weekend.
Australia was clinical early and rallied from behind late in a 10th-straight win at Suncorp Stadium, with winger Marika Koroibete and outside centre Len Ikitau both notching doubles in the 30-17 bonus-point victory.
The result shot the Wallabies up two spots to a three-year high of third in the world rankings – they were seventh this time last week – while the Springboks could relinquish top spot if New Zealand beats Argentina by at least 15 points in the later game in Brisbane.
Australia’s four tries were the most in a Test against the Springboks in 10 years and came in Michael Hooper’s 60th game in charge.
The relentless flanker made 20-of-20 tackles – a success rate seen only twice before Saturday night in a Wallabies jersey since 2010 – as he broke George Gregan’s record as most-capped skipper.
The win came despite a 17-9 penalty count in South Africa’s favour and a moment of near-calamity as backrower Lachie Swinton narrowly avoided a second red card of his young career.
Referee Luke Pearce had all but sent off Swinton before reconsidering and downgrading to a yellow card for his high contact on Duane Vermeulen late in the first half.
The near 40,000-strong Suncorp Stadium crowd still saw red despite Pearce rightly determining, after much deliberation, Swinton’s shoulder-to-shoulder contact came slightly before the pair clashed heads.
Prop Tupou was monumental in a 78-minute shift after getting a chance to start, two big runs setting up first-half tries and then a deft no-look pass on the run to Koroibete in the second half creating a third.
Fullback Tom Banks was also in fine form before copping a knock in a tackle and suffering a fractured arm that will rule him out of the Rugby Championship and potentially November’s Spring Tour.
Their defence of the Bok rolling maul – a source of three tries in a 28-26 result last Sunday on the Gold Coast – was vastly improved and Australia made 98 per cent of tackles in general play too.
“We want to get the country behind us and you’ve got to give them performances to be proud of and hopefully we’ve made a start on that,” second-year Australian coach Dave Rennie said.
“It gives us belief and we’ve always felt the game we’re trying to play is the right game for our group.”
The Boks kicked ahead 18-17, thanks to 11 straight points before the Wallabies found another gear in the final 20 minutes.
It left South African coach Jacques Nienaber apologising to South African rugby fans post-game for what he said was its worst performance since 2018.
“Sorry, that’s all we can say. This is not a performance I would say was worthy enough for a Springbok jersey,” he said.
“Everything (went wrong). We were truly beaten in every department, hands down beaten in everything.
“It’s something we’ll have to figure out quickly (ahead of back-to-back Tests against New Zealand).
“There’s no positives, but it’s nice to play against our SANZAAR partners again; you get tested differently and it’s a big eye opener.”
The bonus-point victory keeps Australia’s faint Rugby Championship hopes alive ahead of back-to-back Tests against Argentina in the next fortnight.