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HomeAfrica-NewsDublin disappointment: Irish passion and precision dominate Boks as hosts secure tense...

Dublin disappointment: Irish passion and precision dominate Boks as hosts secure tense win


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  • Ireland bolstered its world number one credentials with a tense but deserved 19-16 victory against South Africa at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
  • The test match was far from a spectacle, but the sides were never going to entertain in a high-stakes match.
  • The Boks were not only let down by the lack of accuracy in the 22, but the absence of a regular kicker in the seven lost points was crucial.

At the Aviva Stadium in Dublin

Ireland significantly improved their number one position in world rugby when they defeated the Springboks 19-16 in a tense test in Dublin on a cool but comfortable Saturday night.

Was Ireland the better team? In front of their passionate audience, they were, and the critical part was their ability to make their opportunities count.

They struck twice in four minutes just after halftime through forward Josh van der Flier and forward Mack Hansen to give Ireland a 10-point lead that was too much for the Boks.

The Boks had a more than decent foothold in the game, but the lack of a regular kicker hurt them badly.

The seven points that Damian Willemse and Cheslin Kolbe missed off the tee would have tipped the game in favor of the Boks.

The Boks were also guilty of being creatively forceful in the red zone and it’s something they desperately need to fix ahead of next week’s clash against France.

Not only have Ireland maintained a 10-year unbeaten run at home against the Boks, they have also beaten New Zealand and the world champions in the span of a year.

Indeed, they are a team to be taken seriously, while the Boks again have something to do, especially when playing catch-up rugby.

The first half was a triumph for both defenses as rival coaches Andy Farrell (Ireland) and Jacques Nienaber (South Africa) are defensive specialists.

Try-scoring opportunities were few and far between as solid defenses gave nothing away.

The Boks were able to weather a brief storm when fullback Kolbe received a yellow card from Georgian referee Nika Amushukeli for a dangerous tackle on Irish left-back Hansen.

Still, the Boks played decent rugby when they were a man down and should have had points to show for their efforts.

SUMMARY | Late Springbok charge not enough for Ireland to win Dublin thriller

Willemse missed a direct penalty in the 20th minute and when they had the lead, the Boks somehow but rightly conceded a penalty for sealing a ruck in the 24th minute.

The frustrating part of the penalty was that it wasn’t just in the 22m, but in front of the posts.

Those were definite scoring opportunities that the Boks squandered, and the vociferous home crowd let them know they missed the scoring trains.

The Boks almost got scared in the 31st minute when Irish hooker Dan Sheehan knocked down Willemse’s clearance shot.

The fleet-footed forward came close to beating Jesse Kriel at the line, but he fumbled the ball before hitting it.

The 35th minute of the match saw key injuries to both sides.

Ireland, who had lost burly inside center Stuart McCloskey (an injury replacement for Robbie Henshaw) to a shoulder injury, also lost test centurion Conor Murray to what appeared to be a leg injury.

However, the Boks lost more clout, with Jager’s Lock Lood exiting with a shoulder injury that may have ramifications for him throughout the tour.

That said, both teams were guilty of failing to make the most of their opportunities, as Ireland’s extended stay in the SA 22 only earned them a penalty converted by Johnny Sexton in the 36th minute.

The same applies to SA, who couldn’t figure out the Ireland line.

He had to rely on a Kolbe penalty to level the game at half-time.

The Irish then gave the Boks a quick lesson in capitalizing on an opportunity when they scored from a rolling maul in the 46th minute with flanker Van der Flier crossing the whitewash in the left corner.

That meant the Boks had to chase down the game, something they’re not good at, and four minutes later, Ireland had a 10-point lead.

This time it was Hansen who scored a try, as sloppy work on the breakdown allowed Ireland’s number eight Caelan Doris to steal the ball.

With a defensive mismatch, the ball was quickly deflected and Hansen, like Van der Flier, crossed over the left corner.

After keeping a clean sheet of tries in the first half, the Boks had lost two tries in 10 minutes and when they conceded a 55th-minute scrum penalty, Ireland knew they had won an important section of the game.

This advantage, despite conceding a penalty at the 58th minute scrum, was cemented when they not only successfully fractured the resulting maul, but also won the resulting penalty.

That meant Ireland were in the pound seats throughout the final quarter, but the Boks found an attacking voice, especially with Kwagga Smith speeding up the game on the break.

It was a Smith break from a quickly taken penalty that saw the Boks drive deep into the Irish 22.

The Boks should have scored, but Ox Nche’s pass was brought down by an overeager Willemse, who could have left the ball to his outside players.

Then there was Willie le Roux who excelled in broken play, the Boks were on the attack.

His variations on the 10 kept the Irishman busy.

The Irish could only hold out for so long and when Franco Mostert crashed out in the 67th minute, the Boks were rewarded.

Kolbe, however, missed the conversion and coupled with Willemse’s missed penalty attempt in the 20th minute, the Boks were five points short of where they needed to be.

In test matches where narrow margins are a way of life, those little things matter.

Sexton himself had missed two difficult conversions from a similar position, but when he nailed a penalty in the 74th minute that originated from an oversight by Willemse, the Boks needed to score twice to win in the last five minutes.

They needed just a minute and a bit when Kurt-Lee Arendse scored in the corner, but Kolbe missed the difficult conversion.

Ireland controversially slowed the game down but they were in control and when they forced an error from the Boks they controlled the pace effectively.

When replacement nine Jamison Gibson-Park kicked the ball, the 50,000 fans erupted in absolute ecstasy.

The battle lines for the Group B World Cup match in Paris on September 23 have been drawn and it is Ireland who have the mental drive.


Ireland: (6) 19

Attempts: Josh van der Flier, Mack Hansen

Penalties: Johnny Sexton (3)

South Africa: (6) 16

Attempts: Franco Mostert, Kurt-Lee Arendse

Penalties: Damian Willemse, Cheslin Kolbe

Khanyiso Tshwaku is in Dublin covering the Springboks on their end of year tour


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