Monday 5 December 2016

Ireland's giant killers

Published 12/06/2016 | 02:30

Kelvin Browne celebrates Ireland’s under 20 victory over New Zealand. Photo: Dave Howarth/INPHO/Camerasport
Kelvin Browne celebrates Ireland’s under 20 victory over New Zealand. Photo: Dave Howarth/INPHO/Camerasport
Man of the match Devin Toner congratulates Paddy Jackson after the historic victory over South Africa in Cape Town yesterday. Photo: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Irish rugby scored a remarkable double yesterday with the senior and under 20 sides achieving unique wins. The 26-20 victory for the senior side over the Springboks in Cape Town was Ireland's first in South Africa.

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And in Manchester, where the Junior World Cup kicked off last week, the under 20s became the first Ireland men's side to beat New Zealand and are two wins from two having beaten Wales on Tuesday.

Joe Schmidt's team achieved their historic win over the Boks despite having to play almost an hour with 14 men after CJ Stander was sent off for flooring Pat Lambie having jumped to block the outhalf's kick.

A few minutes later Robbie Henshaw was sin binned for a high tackle, and at that stage, Ireland looked to have a mountain to climb. The visitors, however, managed to go in level at half-time. Paddy Jackson's opportunistic drop goal sending the team into the break with their tails up.

"We dug really deep to get that win," captain Rory Best said afterwards. "If we had sat back and kept giving them ball we would have eventually run out of steam, so we had to take the game to them. There are a lot of tired boys who are running on empty now after the euphoria of the win."

Man of the match Devin Toner, who dedicated the award to the memory of his father, who died on the eve of Leinster's Pro12 final last month, added: "I am really proud of everyone, to be honest. What happened after 20 minutes (Stander's sending off), meant we needed to dig deep. We know they are an awesome, strong side, so we really needed to knuckle down, and we did that."

Schmidt felt that Stander's red card was "very, very harsh". Stander will now face a disciplinary hearing this morning in Cape Town. He will be represented by a local lawyer and Ireland will contest the decision by referee Mathieu Raynal in the hope of having the flanker available at least for the third Test, in Port Elisabeth. The second Test is in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Earlier in the day the Ireland under 20s got one foot into the semi-final of the competition, with their historic win over New Zealand, having lost the previous five meetings between the countries.

"I thought they were superb throughout, they really believed in what they could do, and kept going right to the end," said coach Nigel Carolan.

They will be hot favourites to complete the pool phase with a win over Georgia on Wednesday.

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