Quade Cooper’s heroics earned Australia a precious 28-26 victory over the world champion Springboks and a two-place rise in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings.

Playing in his first test for more than four years, Cooper was flawless from the tee with eight successful kicks out of eight and showed nerves of steel right at the death to slot over the match-winning 45-metre penalty.

The 33-year-old finished with a 23-point haul – his highest points total in a single test – with an Andrew Kellaway try accounting for the rest of Australia’s points at the Cbus Super Stadium.

South Africa used their rolling maul to good effect with Malcolm Marx crossing twice after coming on for starting hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

But crucially Handré Pollard, who kicked three penalties, was only able to convert one of the three tries and the Springboks narrowly lost out in a game that featured two yellow cards for each side.

With two full rating points awarded for the victory, Australia climb above France and Argentina and into fifth place in the rankings.

South Africa’s lead over New Zealand at the top of the rankings has been cut to just 2.18 points, adding to the excitement ahead of the 100th test between the two proud teams on 25 September.

Los Pumas kept pointless

In the day’s other game on the Gold Coast, in round three of the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks kept Argentina scoreless for the second time in a row.

Ian Foster’s side marginally improved on their 38-0 win back in November 2020 by winning 39-0. The All Blacks’ five unanswered tries came from Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Dalton Papalii and a Luke Jacobson brace.

The result had no impact on the rankings due to the 7.45 rating points between the teams and the All Blacks being regarded as the home team by tournament organisers SANZAAR.

Meanwhile, USA have climbed above Uruguay, the side they will meet in a home-and-away play-off on consecutive weekends next month for the right to go to RWC 2023 as Americas 1, after a 38-16 win over Canada.

The Eagles went into the second leg of the Rugby Americas North 1 play-off 13 points behind Canada following their 34-21 defeat in Newfoundland.

But they bounced back well to win 38-16 on home soil at Infinity Park in Glendale and seal a 59-50 aggregate victory.

The 0.42 of a point gained in victory was enough for them to move into 16th place at Los Teros’ expense. Canada remain in 21st place.

Read more: USA set up Americas 1 showdown with Uruguay >>