Ireland edge Springboks in tight encounter at the Aviva
Ireland maintained their good record at home against the tourists, who last won a Test in Dublin in 2012.
Ireland’s James Ryan is tackled by the Springboks Damian Willemse with Jasper Wiese coming into help in their clash at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night. Picture: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images
It was an error strewn performance from the Boks, who were disappointing for large sections of the game, while a top start to the second half gave Ireland a good lead, that the South African’s were unable to reel in, despite a strong finish during the closing stages.
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The match kicked off with Ireland receiving an early penalty for the Boks not rolling away at a ruck, with flyhalf Johnny Sexton slotting the kick for a 3-0 lead after two minutes.
The Boks then responded well, going up the other end, earning a penalty which they kicked to touch in the 22m, but Ireland defended the maul well.
However the Boks earned another penalty, this time straight in front, with flyhalf Damian Willemse drawing the scores level after eight minutes.
In the 16th minute Bok fullback Cheslin Kolbe was involved in a double tackle with flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, but unfortunately Kolbe lifted the player through the horizontal and was yellow carded.
However it didn’t prove costly as the Boks kept Ireland scoreless during the 10 minutes, and could have actually come away with three points, but a Willemse penalty attempt sailed way wide of the posts in the 20th minute.
In the 31st minute Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan charged down a poor Willemse clearance attempt, chased down the ball ahead of centre Jesse Kriel and claimed he dotted it down over the line, but a TMO check confirmed he clearly knocked the ball on with the try not awarded.
Sexton then slotted a 35th minute penalty, followed by Kolbe taking over the kicking duties and knocking over an easy three on the halftime hooter as the sides went into the break level pegging at 6-all.
Off to a flyer
Ireland then got off to a flyer in the second half as they earned a penalty in front, kicked to the corner and mauled over, with flank Josh van der Flier diving in to score an unconverted try in the 45th minute.
Four minutes later a superb attack down the backline ended with wing Mack Hansen going in, and despite Sexton missing the touchline conversion for the second time, Ireland suddenly had a 16-6 lead less than 10 minutes into the second half.
Basic errors from the Boks, with Willemse missing touch and a number of soft penalties made it seem like the visitors would not be able to fightback.
However a break from Kolbe then ended with replacement lock Franco Mostert reaching over to score, with Kolbe’s conversion attempt coming off the post to leave the score 16-11 after 67 minutes.
Sexton then slotted a 73rd minute penalty, which proved to be the difference as despite a late unconverted try to wing Kurt-Lee Arendse after great work from lock Eben Etzebeth, saw Ireland just hold on for a 19-16 win.
The Boks face France next week, followed by matches against Italy and England.
Ireland: Tries – Josh van der Flier, Mack Hansen; Penalties – Johnny Sexton (3)
Springboks: Tries – Franco Mostert, Kurt-Lee Arendse; Penalties – Damian WIllemse, Cheslin Kolbe