Defending world champions South Africa lost (19-16) against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday evening, sharing two tries across the board. The Springboks face France in Saint-Denis next Saturday (9pm).
Between two nations that will find themselves in the same World Cup group (along with Scotland, Tonga and Romania) in a year’s time, the Irish looked to have dominated the green Lagoon jersey on Saturday evening. Except in the last five minutes we found the South Africans dull, and anyway for an hour and a half could not offer the advantages of their usual contacts and challenges. When they got there, they were irresistible, as evidenced by the try of their winger Arendse (76th), served up on a platter by the big Eben Etzebat.
The first period of this much-promised encounter did not deliver anything exciting. At a sold-out Aviva Stadium in Dublin, only the scorers kept score. Veteran Jonathan Sexton was imprecise after his two wickets (3, 36) and opener Damien Willems opened his counter in the 9th (21st). After being yellow-carded (17th) for a dangerous tackle, full-back Cheslin Kolbe had to level the teams at the break (40th, 6-6), a numerical advantage that Ireland did not benefit from.
In the second half, the Irish returned with better intent and above all more efficiency. On a carried ball, the clever van der Flier planted the ball in the Springbok in-goal (47th). Then on the way out of the camp, the Irish recover at the right tempo and return the ball to the wing of Hanson, who gallops happily into the South African infield (50, 16-6). Jonathan Sexton’s two missed conversions were complimentary.
On the hour, the South African staff brought on their substitutes’ bench and the finishers (Koch, Smith, De Klerk, Le Roux, Nche, Mbonambi in appearance) weighed more than the starters. In the wake of Franco Mostert, the author of the Bok try (67th, 16-11), they were able to influence the course of this match, but not enough to win. In Dublin, the tone and power they showed in this summer’s Rugby Championship was absent in France’s XV’s next opponents (October 12, Saturday 9 pm) in Saint-Denis, except in the final moments of this game.
Wannabe twitter trailblazer. Troublemaker. Freelance beer evangelist. Amateur pop culture nerd.