Dublin - Man-of-the-match Jonathan Sexton kicked 16
points to inspire Six Nations champions Ireland to a superb 29-15 (half-time
6-3) victory over South Africa at Aviva Stadium on Saturday for their fifth
As it happened: Ireland v Springboks
Both sides scored two tries apiece - Irish
flank Rhys Ruddock a late starter owing to Chris Henry being struck down by a
virus scoring his first try for his country days short of his 24th birthday.
But the under-strength Irish played above
themselves to record their first win under Joe Schmidt over a southern
For the Springboks it was their first
defeat to a northern hemisphere side since Scotland beat them four years ago
and a wake-up call only weeks after they ended world champions New Zealand's 22
match winning run.
Early Irish pressure paid off when Sexton
slotted over a penalty after the South Africans were penalised for pulling the
The Springboks, though, were beginning to
threaten regularly and a scintillating run by fullback Willie Le Roux tore
through the heart of the Irish defence but again the hosts escaped as they were
awarded a penalty.
In an enthralling encounter Ireland also
produced some fine running rugby of their own with fullback Rob Kearney
breaking through the visitors defence and pressured the Boks into conceding a
Sexton made no mistake to make it 6-0 with
a quarter of an hour remaining of the first-half.
The Springboks deciding that they had the
Irish scrum under the cosh in the set pieces twice decided to kick for the
scorner than at goal but the hosts held firm and an infraction by Bismarck du
Plessis allowed Sexton to clear.
Pollard finally gave the Boks something to
show for their pressure during the opening period with a penalty in front of
the posts two minutes from the break.
However, it was the Irish who struck first
in the second-half as Devan Toner won a lineout a few yards out from the line
and Ruddock was on hand to go over on the blindside - Sexton converted
brilliantly from wide out on the left for 13-3.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer rang the
changes bringing on experienced campaigners flank Schalk Burger, winger JP
Pietersen as well as hooker Adriaan Strauss - whose cousin Richardt Strauss was
on the Irish bench - in the first 10 minutes of the second-half desperately
trying to get some momentum going.
Finally, though, South Africa's relentless
pressure told as they won a lineout having opted again to go for the corner,
after being awarded a penalty, veteran Victor Matfield won the lineout and
Marcell Coetzee was on hand to touch down - Pollard converted for 13-10.
Sexton, who had gone down at one point and
seemed to be feeling his calf, put over a penalty to give Ireland a 16-10 lead
as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
The hosts were given a further boost when
the visitors were reduced to 14 men when Adriaan Strauss was sin-binned with 14
minutes remaining for taking out Kearney in the air.
The Irish tails were up and forced a
turnover close to the visitors line which ended with them being awarded a penalty
and, unlike last year when Sexton missed a penalty against the All Blacks from
the same distance, this time he struck it cleanly to make it 19-10.
Things were to get immeasurably better for
the hosts minutes later as Sexton broke through the middle - Conor Murray
chipped the resulting ball over the South African defence and Bowe was on hand
to go over for his 27th try for his country.
The metronomic Sexton converted from the
touchline for 26-10 and the Fields of Athenry resonated round the stadium.
The Irish added another penalty through Ian
Madigan and Pietersen went over right at the end for a consolation try but it
was way too little too late.
Tries: Rhys Ruddock, Tommy Bowe
Conversions: Jonny Sexton (2)
Penalties: Sexton (4), Ian Madigan
Tries: Marcell Coetzee, JP Pietersen
Conversion: Handre Pollard
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Rhys Ruddock, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (captain), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrathSubstitutes: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Tommy O'Donnell 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Felix Jones
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen