Wallabies thrashed as sad reality of Israel Folau scandal exposed

Life without Israel Folau has begun in disastrous fashion for the Wallabies, thrashed 35-17 by South Africa.

Two blown tries and a controversial yellow card meant the Wallabies again left Ellis Park empty-handed in their Rugby Championship opener - their first match without Folau.

Australia were looking for their first win in Johannesburg since 1963 and with the Springboks fielding a weakened side on Saturday night, had a golden opportunity.

But despite some strong individual performances, again they fell short.

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Springboks livewire halfback Herschel Jantjies scored a try in each half in a memorable Test debut.

The Wallabies were in the hunt early but the two missed tries in the first half proved crucial.

They trailed 14-10 at halftime after a try by backrower Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was denied after the last pass from Samu Kerevi was ruled forward by the Television Match Official.

Dane Haylett-Petty reacts after bombing a try. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Winger Dane Hayley-Petty, who scored their opening try, could have added a second and given his team the lead but knocked the ball on as he dived on it over the line.

Skipper Michael Hooper then left a further three points on the field when he turned down an easy penalty shot to chase a try.

Hooper said those would-be tries could have changed the game but praised the home side's second-half surge.

"South Africa controlled the second half so well," Hooper said.

"We had a few opportunities in the first half which would have created a different picture but pat on the back to the South African team who controlled the ball and took advantage of the yellow card and took the match away.

"Our attack in the first half was world class. We showed a lot of different pictures but the reality is those things didn't happen and we were left with them doubling our points."

While behind on the scoreboard there was a lot to like about the Wallabies first half, with the excellent defence and some creative attack that challenged the Springboks when they went wide.

South Africa's Cobus Reinach celebrates after scoring a try. (Photo by CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/AFP/Getty Images)

Halfback Nic White, in his first Test in four years, was sharp, Tom Banks impressed in his first start at fullback while backrower Isi Naisarani also looked strong.

But the second half didn't go to plan, with Australia losing veteran prop James Slipper to a head knock which gave rookie Harry Johnson-Holmes his first cap.

Fellow prop Taniela Tupou was then yellow-carded for a no-arms tackle and momentum swung back with the home side, who scored while he was off.

Cheika fumes at controversial yellow card

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the yellow-card decision was plain wrong.

"I make it as the wrong call," he said.

"The other guy (Springbok) should have been sent to the sin-bin for a shoulder charge.

"The fourth official said he focused on the green guy who came in with a shoulder charge and then Taniela came in after that to get him with his arms wrapped at the right height.

"I'm not sure if big contact is a penalty these days but that's the wrong decision."

Winger S'busiso Nkosi touched down and just after Tupou's return Jantjies snatched the ball from the back of the ruck and darted down the sideline to score with the conversion pushing the lead out to 28-10.

Wallabies veteran Kurtley Beale showed some neat footwork to set up a try for Bernard Foley as the clock wound down but the margin was too great to peg back.

The Springboks added their fifth of the night after fulltime through replacement halfback Cobus Reinach for a convincing win.

Fans couldn’t help but point out the brutal truth that the Wallabies will sorely miss Folau.

with AAP