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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

South Africans Surprise Wallabies in 27-18 Upset

CAPE TOWN -- South Africa produced a performance worthy of its first Rugby World Cup to upset defending champions Australia 27-18 in the opening match of the monthlong international competition Thursday.


Watched by President Nelson Mandela and an almost disbelieving home crowd of 50,000 marking South Africa's return to major international rugby competition after years of being ostracized over apartheid, the Springboks wrecked most pre-match forecasts.


The victory made South Africa one of the favorites among the 16 teams competing to reach the quarterfinals next month. Australia will most likely have to get past England, the strongest northern hemisphere team, to defend its world title.


South Africa was sparked by a vibrant display by fly-half Joel Stransky who contributed 22 of his side's points. The disappointing Wallaby side looked a pale imitation of the team that won the Webb Ellis Cup in England in 1991.


Few had given the Springboks any chance of beating a Wallaby side unbeaten in their previous nine tests, but from the moment winger Pieter Hendriks scored their opening try after 36 minutes the South Africans dominated almost every aspect of the game.


Australia led briefly at 13-9 midway through the first half following a converted try and two penalties from captain Michael Lynagh, but failed to score again until hooker Phil Kearnsmanaged a consolation try with four minutes left.


In between South Africa had a day to remember, doing what no side had managed in the World Cup since Australia was beaten by France in Sydney in 199