The Wallabies are en route to Brisbane to play the second game of their Rugby Championship campaign, after a disappointing start in South Africa.
New South Wales star Kurtley Beale provided a rare spark in an otherwise uninspired display by the Australians.
Wallabies coach Michael Chieka made a surprise decision to start Beale and fellow playmaker Will Genia on the bench for the clash with the Springboks.
Beale replaced Brumbies star Tom Banks at fullback for the final quarter and set up a Bernard Foley try that shot the Wallabies to within two converted tries.
He looked at his best, but there’s still some work to do for the Wallabies, as they fell to the Springboks 35-17.
Chieka said his side missed a few critical opportunities.
“We created a lot of good opportunities and we gave a couple away as well but sometimes you’ve got to be able to react,” he said.
“A lot of small things went … against us in that [early] period as well that turned the momentum away.”
Beale’s leadership will be critical for victory in the clash with Argentina.
A large part of the Argentinian side will take confidence from their Super Rugby success, with the Jaguares making the final against the Crusaders.
Beale could find himself in familiar company as James O’Connor looks set for a comeback to the Wallabies line-up ahead of this year’s World Cup.
O’Connor, Beale and Quade Cooper were considered three of Australia’s best players since the George Greagan era, before off-field controversies sent them into different parts of the rugby world.
The Wallabies take on Argentina at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.