Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Ireland edge Springboks in Paris — Five key takeaways

The Boks should make it through to the quarters with a good bonus point win over Tonga in their final pool game.

Ireland edged the Springboks 13-8 in a massively entertaining pool B clash at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Saturday night to all but confirm their place in the Rugby World Cup knockouts with a game to play.

They aren’t mathematically through as Scotland could possibly stun them in their final pool match which would put the cat among the pigeons, but it is highly unlikely and despite losing, the Boks should make it through as well with a good bonus point win over Tonga in their final pool game.

ALSO READ: Ireland v Springboks: Three key match-ups in Paris blockbuster

Here are five key takeaways from the enthralling match:

Boks’ struggles with the boot

The game ended up coming down to the Boks’ inability to convert their kicks as they missed four shots at goal to miss out on 11 points, which proved the difference in the end as Ireland won by five points.

Ireland slotted all three of their kicks, with Johnny Sexton on target with a penalty and a conversion while replacement Jack Crowley added a late penalty.

Manie Libbok’s struggles with the boot continued as he missed a penalty and a conversion, while Faf de Klerk missed two long range penalties from in front, the first striking the uprights and the second pulled to the right of the posts.

Not taking their opportunities

As has been a common theme over the past few years the Boks again created enough chances to win the match but couldn’t convert them. They made a number of 22m entries over the match but were only able to score one try through Cheslin Kolbe after a sublime skip pass from Manie Libbok.

However, they were unable to convert from a scrum right in front five metres out, had a skew throw in the dying moments at a lineout on the 5m and were unable to get their driving maul firing as they would have liked. It has been something the Boks haven’t managed to fix and cost them.

Ireland’s misfiring lineout

Ireland’s misfiring lineout looked like it might cost them dearly in the match but in the end it didn’t matter as they escaped despite battling throughout. The Bok locks had a field day stealing numerous balls during the match.

At the start of the game Ireland had early chances in the Boks territory to score, but missed their first two lineouts to allow easy exits by the Boks. In the end they missed six lineouts in total to only nail 12 of their 18 throw-ins and on another day that could prove the difference in winning and losing.

Battle of the centres

It was a massive game for the two teams’ inside centres Damian de Allende and Bundee Aki, who ended up being a well-deserved man-of-the-match. Aki was monstrous with the ball in hand, making 14 carries for 112 metres, with four tackle breaks and one offload.

It was his brilliant break towards the end of the first half that led to Ireland’s only try to Mack Hansen.

De Allende didn’t carry as much, but when he did he was immense with five carries for 43 metres with four tackle busts, while he was massive on defence making 10 tackles.

The power of the Ox

Springbok loosehead prop Ox Nche has to be the most powerful scrummager in world rugby and he proved it again against Ireland. It was a pretty even battle at the scrum for both sides over the first 45 minutes of the match, but once Nche came on to replace Steven Kitshoff early in the second half the tide turned immediately.

He exerted his dominance straight away with two scrum penalties going in his favour after overpowering Tadhg Furlong.

Some dubious calls by the ref over the rest of the half robbed the Boks of the clear dominance that they had there and hopefully that won’t be a factor in the coming games.

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