Boks lose in Perth

Australia made a blistering start as they went on the attack from the kick off.

Bryan Habana ran onto the field to become only the fourth Springbok to play 100 tests after Victor Matfield. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The Springboks narrowly lost to Australia in their Rugby Championship encounter on Saturday as they suffered their first defeat of the season.

The rain was bucketing down when Bryan Habana ran onto the field to become only the fourth Springbok to play 100 tests after Victor Matfield, John Smit and Percy Montgomery.

Australia made a blistering start as they went on the attack from the kick off and it took less than two minutes for the hosts to open the scoring.

Matt Toomua hit a half gap to send Israel Folau over. George Clancy checked for a possible obstruction on Morne Steyn but the try stood, while Bernard Foley failed to add the extra two.

The Boks struck back with a penalty by Steyn before brilliant handling by the South African backs resulted in Cornal Hendricks dotting down in the corner. Steyn narrowly missed the conversion.

The kickers traded penalties before Steyn slotted his third of the day to put South Africa in front 14-8 after 25 minutes.

Foley reduced the gap to three with another penalty and Adam Ashley-Cooper had an opportunity to put the Wallabies in front before halftime when Toomua sent a grubber kick through, but he couldn't control the ball and at the break South Africa led 14-11.

The game continued to be dominated by the boot after halftime as Foley levelled matters before Steyn slotted two penalties against a strong wind to open up a six-point gap.

Jean de Villiers turned down an opportunity to extend the lead to nine when he opted for a lineout instead, but South Africa lost the ball from the lineout.

When the Springboks had another opportunity at three points, the captain decided to take them.

Clancy, who didn't have one of his better games with the whistle, made a big call when he sent Habana to the sinbin for a dangerous tackle on Ashley-Cooper with 15 minutes left, despite a lot of protesting by De Villiers who argued he was on the receiving end of a similar tackle a few minutes earlier.

Playing against 14-men Australia reduced the gap to six and just when it looked like the yellow card was only going to cost South Africa three points, Steyn failed to kick the ball out from a penalty and Rob Horne scored and Foley converted to put the Wallabies in front by one point with a minute left.

The Wallabies held on for the victory to pick up their first win of the Rugby Championship, while the Boks suffered their first defeat this year.