Thursday 12 December 2019

'Exceptional performance' – BOD and sidelined rugby stars hail victory over Springboks

Declan Whooley

A heroic performance by Ireland against the side ranked second in the world was lauded by Brian O'Driscoll and others following the 14 point victory at the Aviva Stadium.

Ignoring the summer Tests in Argentina where Joe Schmidt did not have a full-strength squad, this was the beginning of the post-O'Driscoll era, with Jared Payne filling the iconic 13 jersey on his international debut and Robbie Henshaw starting at inside centre.

8 November 2014; Ireland's Tommy Bowe is congratulated by team-mates Conor Murray, left, and Richardt Strauss after scoring his side's second try. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Ireland's Tommy Bowe is congratulated by team-mates Conor Murray, left, and Richardt Strauss after scoring his side's second try. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Tommy Bowe, Ireland, is congratulated by teammates Rhys Ruddock, left, and Conor Murray after scoring their side's second try of the game. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Rhys Ruddock is congratulated by teammate Peter O'Mahony after scoring their side's opening try of the game.
8 November 2014; Ireland captain leads his players off the field after the game. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Jamie Heaslip, Ireland, applauds the supporters as he leaves the field after the game. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Rhys Ruddock dives in to score his Ireland's try early in the second half at the Aviva Stadium.
8 November 2014; Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, is tackled by Jan Serfontein, South Africa. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Peter O'Mahony, Ireland, takes possession of the ball from a lineout. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Conor Murray, Ireland, is tackled by Tebo Mohoje, left, and Tendai Mtawarira, South Africa. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Conor Murray, Ireland, is tackled by Tendai Mtawarira, South Africa. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Simon Zebo, Ireland, is tackled by Francois Hougaard, South Africa. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Victor Matfield, South Africa, wins possession of the ball in a lineout. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Victor Matfield, South Africa, takes possession of the ball from a lineout. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Handr? Pollard, South Africa, kicks a penalty. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Jared Payne, Ireland, is tackled by Jean de Villiers, South Africa. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Eben Etzebeth, South Africa, is tackled by Jamie Heaslip, left, and Devin Toner, Ireland. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Jean de Villiers, South Africa, in action against Conor Murray, left, and Tommy Bowe, Ireland. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
8 November 2014; Rob Kearney, Ireland, evades the tackle of Jannie du Plessis, South Africa. Guinness Series, Ireland v South Africa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Both players had limited opportunities in attack but were imperious on the back foot and O'Driscoll tweeted his pride after the match.

"Exceptional performance," he posted on his account.

Dynamic prop Cian Healy was forced to watch as provincial colleague Jack McGrath stepped into the breach and while he was under pressure at the scrum, put in 17 tackles in the physical encounter.

"That was fantastic! Defensive effort was off the charts!" he tweeted afterwards.

The loss of another key ball carrier Sean O'Brien was offered as another possible reason why Joe Schmidt's side would struggle to lower South African colours, but the backrow was immense. Peter O'Mahony was a nuisance to the opposition throughout, earning a crucial penalty that resulted in Ireland going 19-10 ahead, Rhys Ruddock got on the score sheet after being called up as a late replacement for Chris Henry while Jamie Heaslip maintained his sky-high standards of consistency.

"Excellent performance delighted for the lads," O'Brien, who is recovering from shoulder reconstruction, posted on his account.

A feature of the post-match interviews was the praise from the Springboks towards their hosts and Toulon star Bryan Habana continued the theme with his tweet.

"Not a great day at the office. Beaten by a better team and lots to work on over the next week!!" he said.

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Online Editors

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport