Tuesday 26 March 2019

Five reasons Ireland defeated the Springboks

Declan Whooley

Ireland lowered South African colours in the opening Autumn international this evening and this is how they managed the morale boosting victory.

First half pressure

Under immense pressure for the final 15 minutes of the half Ireland bravely repelled the South Africa attacks, helped at times by poor South African execution and ill-discipline.

To restrict the second best side in the world to a single penalty was accredit to the work ethic and determination of Schmidt's side and a measure of Simon Easterby's role in the early stages of his international role. The tackle count by the end was more than double that of South Africa, who also dominated possession and territory, but as the saying goes, only the scoreboard matters at the end.

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

Emperor Sexton

Shane Horgan in the commentary box said compared the Irish out-half to an emperor such was his control over the game.

A brilliant kick with ten minutes left in the match, just after Strauss was binned, pinned the Boks back in their own 22 and ultimately led to the penalty that stretched the lead to nine points.

The Racing Metro player didn't look like a player returning after an injury lay-off and was flawless from the tee, immaculate from hand and put in a tireless shift defensively and deservedly claimed the man-of-the-match award.

Without doubt the central figure in this side.

Kearney class

His first involvement in the game was being pinged for tackling in the air, but after 22 minutes he showed his X-factor. The Leinster full-back ghosted upfield, beat three defenders before off-loading.

Ireland engineered a penalty from the attack and in a game of few scoring chances, it was a key moment in the game.

Penalty decisions

When Jack McGrath conceded a penalty after 27 minutes, it looked like the Springboks would put their first points on the scoreboard. However they kicked the corner and after setting up the maul, Hougaard spilled and the chance went begging.

Resplendent Ruddock

Only selected due to a virus to Chris Henry, the Leinster flanker put in a serious shift. Strong defensively in the closing stages of the first half in particular, the 23 year-old scored the first try of the game early in the second half, demonstrating the power and physicality that has become a trademark.

Ruddock has had a fine season provincially thus far and will be applying serious pressure for the Six Nations and World Cup if he continues in such a rich vein of form

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Champions Cup Preview, O'Connell and O'Gara's coaching future and Bloodgate remembered

In association with Aldi

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport