Cape Town - The Springboks started their four-Test European year-end tour on a low at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, losing 29-15 to Ireland.
As it happened: Ireland v Springboks
Despite dominating the set-pieces, the Springboks came unstuck against a fiery Irish side who made use of every opportunity afforded to them.
The Springboks, on the other hand, were wasteful in taking their chances and hopefully will have learnt valuable lessons ahead of this weekend's Test against England at Twickenham.
Sport24 outlines THREE key moments which proved vital during South Africa's 29-15 loss to Ireland in Dublin at the weekend.
1. Not taking shots at goal
Bok captain Jean de Villiers’s decision not to take three points in the first half proved costly in the final outcome of the game. With the Boks trailing 6-0 in the 25th minute, they won a penalty after completely demolishing the Ireland scrum. However, instead of taking three points, De Villiers opted for an attacking lineout five metres from the Irish tryline. From the ensuing maul, Ireland won a turnover and a scrum. The Springboks won another penalty from the subsequent scrum, but again opted for a lineout. A superb counter-drive from Ireland then led to a knock-on from Bok scrumhalf Francois Hougaard. Ireland escaped from that period of concerted Bok pressure without conceding points. It gave them a huge psychological boost. Taking the three points would have allowed the Boks to slowly chip away at the Irish lead, and with the visitors dominating at set-piece, it could have seen them go into half-time with a lead. In the 55th minute, with the Boks trailing 13-3, De Villiers again decided against taking three points. On that occasion it paid off, with Marcell Coetzee barging over after a dominant lineout maul. However, it’s a different scenario with time running out and when you’re trailing by 10 points. Early in the game, taking shots at goal is crucial.
2. Ireland's early second half try
Ireland’s try right at the start of the second half swung momentum back in favour of the hosts. Despite trailing 6-3 at half-time, the Springboks had dominated the latter parts of the first period, with their dominance at scrum and lineout time clearly evident. My gut feel at the break was that Ireland would start to feel the brunt of making twice as many tackles as their opponents. However, an energetic kick-chase from Ireland in the 41st minute put Willie le Roux under serious pressure, forcing the Springbok fullback to kick out six metres from his own line. From the ensuing lineout maul, Ireland caught the Boks cold with Rhys Ruddock barging over for the game's first try. Suddenly, Ireland were up by 10 points and had wrestled back some much needed momentum.
3. Strauss sin-bin
French referee Romain Poite’s decision to sin-bin Bok hooker Adriaan Strauss in the 67th minute no doubt ended any hopes the Boks had of claiming a comeback win. The game was still up for grabs with the hosts enjoying a 16-10 lead when Strauss illegally tackled Ireland fullback Rob Kearney. There’s no doubt it was an illegal act from Strauss as Kearney was still airborne when the Bok hooker made contact, but a yellow card was perhaps harsh. Either way, Strauss should have timed his tackle better at a key period in the match. During Strauss’ absence, Ireland were rampant and by the time he returned the game was over as a contest (26-10). Who knows what could have happened had Kearney been legally dealt with while the game was on a knife’s edge?
French referee Romain Poite sends Adriaan Strauss to the sin-bin... (Getty Images)