Flyhalf Quade Cooper celebrated his first test in four years by slotting a penalty after the siren that gave the Wallabies a tense 28-26 win over South Africa in their Rugby Championship match on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
Cooper struck the ball sweetly from 40 metres out on an angle, splitting the middle of the posts after scrumhalf Nic White won the late penalty by poaching the ball from the Springboks’ scrum in a nerve-wracking finish.
Cooper racked up 23 points, slotting seven penalties and a conversion in a laser-sharp match, with Andrew Kellaway scoring the lone try for the Wallabies in the 17th minute.
The Springboks scored all three of their tries from lineout drives, with Malcolm Marx grabbing a brace of five-pointers, his second nosing the world champions in front with eight minutes left.
After referee Luke Pearce awarded the Wallabies the last shot on goal, it was a toss-up between Cooper and team mate Reece Hodge, who has the longer boot of the two.
“The first thing was I looked up and I had a kick from a similar spot just before that and I only just had the legs to get it over,” Cooper said.
“I had a little chat to myself and said: ‘Is this your ego that wants you to take it?
“Your peers are backing you, you’ve got to be back yourself as well.”
The Wallabies claimed their first win of the tournament after back-to-back thrashings by the All Blacks at Eden Park and in Perth.
South Africa fell to their first defeat after winning their opening two matches against Argentina.
“It’s a good bounce back, a good reply from three very tough matches,” said Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.
“South Africa’s got such a good game-plan but we know it’s going to be another level next week.”