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Australia beats South Africa to end 6-match losing streak

Associated Press Associated Press 10/09/2016
Michael Hooper of the Australian Wallabies, left, tackles South African Springboks player Faf de Klerk, center bottom, during the Rugby Championship match between the Wallabies and the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (Dave Hunt/AAP Image via AP) © The Associated Press Michael Hooper of the Australian Wallabies, left, tackles South African Springboks player Faf de Klerk, center bottom, during the Rugby Championship match between the Wallabies and the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (Dave Hunt/AAP Image via AP)

BRISBANE, Australia — Australia beat South Africa 23-17 in the Rugby Championship on Saturday and ended its longest losing streak in 11 years.

The Wallabies rallied from an 11-point deficit midway through the first half, restricted the Springboks to just a penalty in the second half, and finally stopped a six-test losing run.

"It's been a long while since our last win," Australia captain Stephen Moore said. "We've had a good week and it's a good feeling to get over the line. I feel happy for our supporters who have stuck with us through a tough time."

Australia looked in trouble in the first half after an intercepted Foley pass eventually led to South Africa's second try. In the 18th minute, Springboks skipper Adriaan Strauss picked off Foley's pass and sent the ball to playmaker Elton Jantjies, who kicked ahead into open space for an on-rushing Johan Goosen to score untouched, giving the visitors an 11-point lead.

But lock Adam Coleman, playing in his third test, crashed over just before the half-hour mark to begin the Australian comeback. Then penalties by flyhalf Bernard Foley on either side of halftime — the second after a yellow card to Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth — gave Australia a 16-14 edge.

Foley then helped clinch the match when he dummied through the Springboks' line to cap an 18-phase play in the 62nd minute.

"We're happy to get our first win of 2016," Moore said.

Following their loss in the Rugby World Cup final last November, the Wallabies lost three home tests in a row to England and then two to New Zealand home and away to open the Rugby Championship.

The Wallabies picked up their first points of the championship but remain in last place, 11 points behind leading New Zealand.

South Africa suffered its second loss in a row after dropping a 26-24 decision to Argentina two weeks ago in Salta.

Coach Allister Coetzee said he was disappointed with his team's discipline, but saw several positives.

"Our set-piece functioned well, especially on our own scrum ball and our lineouts," he said. "We were physical and dominated the collision exchanges, created enough scoring opportunities but lost the ball in contact at times when we needed to go through one or two more phases.

"We also tried to play a bit too much in our own half. They got territory from it and managed to put us under pressure."

Earlier, the All Blacks won their third successive Rugby Championship match in beating Argentina 57-22 in Hamilton, and can clinch the title next weekend when they host South Africa in Christchurch.

The Wallabies play Argentina in Perth.

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