Boks bounce back in Dublin

Sat, 10 Nov 2012 19:24
Large adriaan strauss v ireland 6 Large zane kirchner v ireland 630 Large francois hougaard v ireland

South Africa, coming back from nine points down, scored a 16-12 win over Ireland in the opening round of internationals in the November Test window.

South Africa, coming back from nine points down, scored a 16-12 win over Ireland in the opening round of internationals in the November Test window.

The significance of the match is not so much the fact that South Africa won - which in itself is a huge result for the Springboks - but the fact that Ireland drop down to eighth in the IRB rankings.

Argentina, who had beaten Wales earlier in the day, moved past the Irish into seventh - which is crucial in terms of the World Cup draw that will be made next month.

And it is also Bok coach Heyneke Meyer's first win away from home since he took over as mentor of the national team in January.

It was an unsatisfactory game. For the Springboks there seemed no rainbow's end in Dublin, in fact no rainbow at all. They are still a one-half team. For the Irish there was the disappointment of another defeat, making it seven in their last nine matches. Having half-time hopes so dashed must have been even more disheartening but then you need to look like scoring a try.

For both sides it could have been better. For the Springboks better would have been playing for 80 minutes with enthusiasm, continuity and flair. It seems too much to ask as there is simply no flair at all. For Ireland better would have been winning - any kind of winning, but winning.

Ireland were best when they were uniting in a post-tackle drive. They were not at their best when they went in for one-pass phases, mostly behind the gain line. Perhaps they believed their stated belief that they could hammer the Springbok forwards. The Springboks were at their best in the second half when their kicking was better, their vision clearer and their control of possession much better.

The first Springbok kick of the match was excellent - a high ball with JP Pietersen chasing and tackling. After that they were back to unpressurised transferring of possession. The second half was better with Zane Kirchner chasing.

In the first half the Springboks tried hard passes at close quarters - passes that were ill directed and hard. But then Dublin is not always the easiest of venues.

The start in the cold is a tough ask - listening to The World in Union, meeting the president of Ireland, singing three anthems.

Ireland wore black for the first time. Usually for home matches between the two countries the home country does something in white. This time it was black. There may have been a reason for the change.

Jonathan Sexton kicked off and the early part of the match was characterised by a stream of penalties against the Springboks - four in the first 10 minutes. In the first half the penalty count was 11-6 in Ireland's favour, in the second half 9-4 in South Africa's favour. That is a lot of penalties.

The first penalty was a strange one at a collapsed maul that led to a five-metre line-out for Ireland. Richardt Strauss overthrew the ball but somebody was penalised for an air tackle. 3-0 after 6 minutes.

Jannie du Plessis was within 10 metres of where a poor Pat Lambie kick landed. 6-0 after 10 minutes.

There was a good moment at this time when Eben Etzebeth won a line-out and JP Pietersen came in off his wing and banged Sexton aside.

Mike McCarthy went offside. 6-3 after 17 minutes but penalties against Jean de Villiers and then François Hougaard made the score 12-3 at half-time. Lambie kicked off the last kick and Pietersen went hurtling after the ball, crashing into  Chris Henry before the Irishman had caught the ball, which earned Pietersen a yellow card. Mercifully for his side the Irish scored no points while he was off.

The second half was different. It belonged to the Springboks who scored 13 points to none.

An early penalty gave them a five-metre line-out. The Springboks mauled and after multiple Irish infringements Jamie Heaslip was sent to the sin bin. The Springboks tapped a penalty five metres out and they got close to the line till Ruan Pienaar picked up, dummied and dived over inside Donnacha Ryan for a try under the posts. 12-10 to Ireland after 44 minutes.

The Springboks were now running the game and Lambie gave them the lead when Peter O'Mahony infringed at a tackle. 13-12 after 52 minutes.

Heaslip then came back. In his 10 minutes' absence the Springboks had scored 10 points. That was the winning of the game.

The Springboks had chances to score but the only addition to their score was a Lambie penalty when Mike Ross was penalised at a scrum. 16-12 with 11 minutes to play.

On the scrums with their new three-word cadence, there was no obvious profit. There were 11 scrums, five collapses, two resets, three penalties and two free kicks. Two of the scrum penalties were against the Irish tighthead when Heinke van der Merwe came on.

Man of the Match: Marcell Coetzee was excellent when he came on for Willem Alberts and Ruan Pienaar had his best match of the year. Our choice is Francois Louw who was great tackling and in what went on after tackles. And when he had the ball its retention was assured.

Moment of the Match: Ruan Pienaar's try. It changed the course of the game.

Villain of the Match: JP Pietersen for that reckless tackle when he should have been going for the ball. The brawl it generated was unseemly.

The scorers:

For Ireland:
Sexton 4

For South Africa:
Con: Lambie
Pens: Lambie 3

Yellow cards: JP Pietersen (South Africa, 31 - early tackle), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland, 43 - collapsing the maul)


Ireland: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ronan O'Gara, 23 Fergus McFadden

South Africa: 15  Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 François Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Stuart Terheege (England)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)