Ireland Player Ratings
Rob Kearney 4
Wasn't afforded the same easy possession as that gifted to him aerially last year, hence little chance to counter-attack. Poor on defence for second Boks try. Geordan Murphy a better counter-attacking option.
Tommy Bowe 6
Tried to come inside for work all day but ended up cluttering a situation that was already faltering in Ireland's appalling backline play; could have sneaked a second cross-kick try soon after his first.
Brian O'Driscoll 4
Apart from a silly mistake when he was pinged for hanging out of Gio Kaplan during a rare Irish breakaway attack, the only genuine creative talent barely touched the ball. Leadership questionable.
Gordon D'Arcy 4
As with all his colleagues, mitigating factors -- principally the forwards' implosion at set-piece -- must apply. Nevertheless, by the standards of a 50-cap veteran, an underwhelming display.
Luke Fitzgerald 5
After a year away from Test rugby, Fitzgerald couldn't have asked for a happier return on a personal level. Couldn't produce miracles when there was no platform or supply line. Worth a try at full-back next week.
Jonny Sexton 4
Became increasingly bogged down by the diminishing returns in front of him and consequently struggled to assert any control or authority; O'Gara's cameo will be good for him.
Eoin Reddan 3
Rapidly slipped down the pecking order after this display, even aside from the glaring error that ensured South Africa earned the breathing space on the scoreboard that allowed them suffocate the game.
Cian Healy 4
Has only arrived in double figures as a Test player and may remain Ireland's only starting option in big games, presuming Tom Court retains his status as an impact sub. Still a mountain of progress to make.
Rory Best 3
Even his scrummaging couldn't rescue a showing that reeked of a lack of confidence in both his technique and in what the set-piece procedure was meant to be. Sean Cronin's absence was mystifying.
Tony Buckley 3
Was referred to afterwards by his loyal coach as one of the two "young props" but Irish rugby is slowly losing patience with him. Now appears likely to miss the rest of the series to further hamper his development.
Donncha O'Callaghan 5
O'Callaghan played as well as he could in a tight-five being destroyed. Spoke eloquently after the match about Ireland's deficiencies. Perhaps it is time to bring that leadership to the fore during the match.
Mick O'Driscoll 3
The second-row berth was a critical selection call from the coach and it backfired spectacularly. Continued to call a series of delusional line-outs which compounded the shambles out of touch.
Stephen Ferris 6
Performed manfully in a rearguard effort but never produced the big moment that will mark him down as a big threat in the World Cup next year. Didn't do anything wrong, but didn't do anything special either.
David Wallace 6
Made some bizarre decisions, including running into touch on his own 22 to grant South Africa another attacking line-out in the shocking fist-half display. Sean O'Brien's form should have been rewarded.
Jamie Heaslip 5
Ireland's best ball carrier -- which wasn't hard -- but from someone destined to be the captain of this Irish team following the next World Cup, that aspect of his character remained hidden all day.
Ronan O'Gara: Turned the tide of the game with an astonishing intervention. O'Gara's influence as a final-quarter impact sub is telling. He will still want more. 5
Peter Stringer: The O'Gara/Stringer partnership dragged Ireland out of a hole. Stringer's snappy service is actually best suited to the type of game Ireland are supposedly trying to play. 5
Tom Court: The scrum clearly improved upon Court's introduction and it points toward a more significant role for the remainder of the month. 6
Donnacha Ryan: A better option than a veteran perhaps, but arguably the wrong man was on the bench in the first place, with Devin Toner's candidacy, like that of O'Brien's, being somehow overruled in the selection meeting. 4
Declan Kidney: Six defeats in succession -- albeit only four in Test matches -- increases the pressure on Kidney and next weekend he may have to sacrifice experimentation for the sake of a much-needed result. 3