South Africa's Rugby Championship hopes dealt a blow in pulsating Australia draw
South Africa's hopes of challenging New Zealand for the Rugby Championship were dealt a blow after a thrilling contest against Australia finished 23-23 in Perth.
Having lost twice to the All Blacks in their opening two matches of the tournament, Australia's chances of winning the title were already scarce but the Springboks made the trip with two wins to their name against Argentina.
It looked a tall task to get a third win as tries from Kurtley Beale - his third of the Championship - and Tatafu Polota-Nau had Australia 20-10 ahead amid wet conditions at nib Stadium.
The momentum swung dramatically back in the visitors' favour, though, as two Elton Jantjies penalties either side of a converted Malcolm Marx score had the away side leading and dreaming of just a second away win in nine contests against the Wallabies.
But Bernard Foley tied things up once again and, despite a late Springboks push for the line, the match finished all square.
South Africa now travel to New Zealand knowing realistically they must avoid defeat if they are to have a chance of winning the title, while Australia host Argentina looking for a morale-boosting win.
Slippery conditions made for an ugly start with both sides guilty of errors, but Jantjies' boot put South Africa on the board before Foley responded in kind for the hosts.
The match burst into life in the 25th minute, though. Australia lost the ball at the breakdown and Jesse Kriel ultimately ended up collecting his own kick after Michael Hooper and Raymond Rhule clashed shoulders and went to ground during a footrace.
It was a short-lived lead as the Wallabies hit straight back. Israel Folau won the ball back from a short kick-off and Beale collected a poor pass from the breakdown before brilliantly hitting the gap.
Jantjies missed the chance to put the Springboks back in front off the tee, but Foley was on target on the stroke of half-time and Australia stretched the lead after the break when Polota-Nau dotted down from a brilliant driving maul.
Jan Serfontein almost bagged a brilliant breakaway try as the momentum swung in South Africa's favour, with a Jantjies penalty cutting the deficit before Marx grounded from a rolling maul.
Jaco Kriel failed to benefit from a poor Folau error by knocking on before the line, but from the following scrum South Africa earned a penalty from which Jantjies kicked them into the lead.
Foley levelled again with a 30-metre effort shortly after, but Australia remained on the back foot and had to charge down a last-gasp drop-kick attempt from Jantjies in a frantic finish.