Australia have closed the gap on England in the World Rugby Rankings after recovering from back-to-back losses against New Zealand in the opening two rounds of The Rugby Championship with a hard-fought 23-18 win over South Africa in Brisbane.

The Wallabies picked up a fraction under half a rating point for the win to move on to 84.45 points – 1.22 behind England in fourth place.


Michael Cheika's men trailed South Africa by the slenderest of margins at half-time, but they kept the visitors scoreless in the second half and Matt Toomua kicked two penalties as they recovered from an 18-17 half-time deficit.

Michael Hooper and Toomua scored Australia’s tries, both converted by the centre, while Reece Hodge landed a penalty from just inside his own half on the stroke of half-time.

The Springboks' points came from Bongi Mbonambi and Makazole Mapimpi tries and a couple of penalties and conversion from Elton Jantjes.

South Africa stay seventh in the rankings with 2.25 points between themselves and France below.

All Blacks win again as Sanchez breaks record 

A much-changed New Zealand side ran in six tries against an enterprising Argentina outfit to maintain their perfect start to the season, and they remain 4.39 points clear of nearest rivals Ireland in the rankings.

TJ Perenara, one of seven changes from the side that saw off Australia in round two, was the pick of the newcomers. Almost exactly a year to the day since his last test start, Perenara scored a try in each half as the All Blacks countered everything Los Pumas could throw at them with interest.

Elsewhere there were tries for Nehe Milner-Skudder, Kieran Read, Shannon Frizzell and Jack Goodhue, while Richie Mo’unga capped an assured test debut with 13 points from the tee.

Argentina’s tries came from Ramiro Moyano, who also had one disallowed for a foot on touch on the stroke of half-time, Nicolas Sanchez and Emiliano Boffelli. Sanchez converted all three and added a penalty.

In scoring 14 points on the night, Sanchez overtook Felipe Contepomi as Argentina’s all-time record points scorer.