Ireland beat reigning champions South Africa 13-8 in an intense Rugby World Cup pool-stage encounter, thanks in large part to Mack Hansen’s try.
Ireland had real line-out issues early on, winning none of their first four, but it eventually stabilised and helped set up the only try of the first half.
After a successful set piece the Irish went through the phases, drew in defenders and then worked the ball wide for Hansen to score a walk-in try. Johnny Sexton added the conversion and it was 7-3 at the break.
The Springboks hit back, with Cheslin Kolbe scoring a try off the back of a dominant scrum which itself came right after four replacement forwards – the so-called Bomb Squad – had been introduced.
Yet a Sexton penalty restored Ireland’s lead at 10-8 and South Africa squandered several chances to change that, with Faf de Klerk and Manie Libbok both missing penalties.
A Jack Crowley penalty secured the win for Ireland, with South Africa repelled from a last-chance line-out seven metres from the Irish line.
The victory leaves Ireland in pole position to win Pool B and avoid having to face hosts France in the quarter-finals, although the likely knockout clash against New Zealand is hardly an attractive proposition.
Talking point – Bad Boks kicking comes back to haunt them
Ireland won by five points, but South Africa left at least double that on the kicking tee. Libbok missed a conversion which was wide but not on the touchline, as well as a penalty from a similar angle. Faf de Klerk also missed two penalties, one of which hit the woodwork.
Libbok is an electric player at times, but his kicking has long been flagged as a weakness and it proved costly here. De Klerk is a useful back-up, but there’s a reason he is not the usual kicker.
South Africa are so strong, literally and metaphorically, but kicker is the one clear area of weakness. Handre Pollard is now back with the squad and it’s hard not to think this game has increased his chances of a recall.
Player of the match – Bundee Aki (Ireland)
Carried well, making several big gains, and produced a brilliant turnover in the final three minutes to halt South Africa’s progress. Brilliant on the occasion of his 50th Ireland cap.
South Africa: Kitshoff 6, Mbonambi 7, Malherbe 6, Etzebeth 7, Mostert 6, Kolisi 7, Du Toit 6, Wiese 6; De Klerk 6, Libbok 5, Kolbe 7, De Allende 6, Kriel 6, Arendse 6, Willemse 6. Subs: Fourie 5, Nche 7, Nyakane 6, Kleyn 5, Snyman 7, Van Staden 6, Smith 7, Reinach 6.
Ireland: Porter 6, Kelleher 5, Furlong 7, Ryan 6, Beirne 6, O’Mahony 7, Van der Flier 6, Doris 7; Gibson-Park 6, Sexton 7, Lowe 6, Aki 8, Ringrose 6, Hansen 7, Keenan 7. Subs: Sheehan 7, Bealham 6, Kilcoyne 6, Henderson 6, Baird 6, Murray 6, Crowley 7, Henshaw 6.
TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 3-7 IRELAND (HANSEN) 34′ – Ireland win a line-out and show good patience and hands to go through the phases, drag in South Africa defenders, and then go wide. Lowe draws two defenders and pops a pass on to Hansen, who touches down in the right corner. Sexton nails the conversion for good measure.
TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 8-7 IRELAND (KOLBE) 51′ – South Africa choose to scrum and after a re-set have an advantage. Ireland’s backs flood to the scrum and seek to apply pressure, but the handling is too good and Kolbe gets the ball in acres of space on the left to touch down.
THROW NOT STRAIGHT! 71′ – Makeshift hooker Fourie’s throw from a five-metre line-out is not straight! A let-off for Ireland.
PENALTY! SOUTH AFRICA 8-13 IRELAND 77′ – Crowley kicks a simple penalty, won at a scrum, and Ireland’s lead is now five points
IRELAND WIN! 81′ – The Boks win their line-out and set up a maul, but Ireland thwart it, the ball doesn’t come out and that will do it! Ireland win and the Cranberries straight away comes on the speakers. A great game and an incredible moment.
- Ireland have now won 25 games in a row where they led at the interval.
- Ireland have beaten South Africa three times in a row, and won five of the last seven meetings.
Source: Euro Sports