The Springboks staggered in the face of a vicious and hugely passionate defensive Irish onslaught in Dublin to fall to a record 38-3 defeat in their opening game of their European tour on Saturday night.
While referee Ben O’Keeve maybe allowed the Irish a lot of leeway on the offside line, the home team were full value and kept the Boks pointless in the first half to storm to a 14-0 halftime lead.
Eventually the Irish scored four tries without reply.
The only times in the first half that South Africa remotely looked like scoring an out-of-sorts centre Damian de Allende kicked the ball away with an overlap to his mercy, while a wild pass from flank Siya Kolisi failed to find the waiting hands of wing Courtnall Skosan.
There was an increase in the Boks’ intensity in the second period when prop Steven Kitshoff, centre Francois Venter and flyhalf Handre Pollard were sent on but the ability of Ireland to dominate proceedings at the breakdown and bossing the gainline killed off any thoughts of a Bok fightback.
Who was the star in this match?
Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton showed his experience and kept the Boks under the cosh with his brilliant tactical kicking and his uncanny ability to read the game supremely. His scrumhalf Conor Murray was equally good as they kept the Boks guessing and scrambling.
Key moments and themes
- Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen left the field in agony as early as the second minute with a serious knee injury following a tenacious tackle by Ireland debutant centre Bundee Aki. That brought young Wilco Louw on the scene, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but the promising Capetonian didn’t quite make a sufficient impact.
- The only try of the first half – scored by Ireland wing Andrew Conway in the 25th minute – showcased South Africa’s haphazard defence. Wing Courtnall Skosan fumbled a ball in air and left a gaping hole for his Irish counterpart. In his defence, his path was partly blocked by Ross Cronje and Malcolm Marx.
- Courtesy of two early scrum penalties conceded by Bok prop Beast Mtawarira, Ireland managed to build early scoreboard pressure with three Johnny Sexton penalties. That seemed to knock the Springboks off their stride already.
- An indication of Ireland’s dominance is to the fact that Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies had his first attempt at a penalty goal four minutes after the break. However, Jantjies touchline kicking was poor and he failed to create any spark, admittedly with a pack that were caught behind the advantage line. Big questions also need to be asked about the viability of De Allende and Jesse Kriel as a centre pairing.
Ireland – Tries: Andrew Conway, Rhys Ruddock, Rob Herring, Jacob Stockdale. Conversions: Joey Carbery (2), Jonny Sexton. Penalties: Sexton (4).
South Africa – Penalty: Elton Jantjies.