SOUTH AFRICA 3
by Simon Lewis, Aviva Stadium
Key moment: With Ireland establishing an early lead and ultimately cruising to a record victory over South Africa with three tries in the last 10 minutes, the outcome was never in doubt but Andrew Conway’s 24th minute try pushed Ireland into a 14-0 half-time lead that put the home side in the driving seat.
Talking point: Rassie Erasmus may be regretting his decision to leave Munster and return to the South African set-up as director of rugby. Judging by this performance, in which the Springboks lacked penetration and caused Ireland few problems, even at the set-piece, Erasmus will have his work cut out.
Key man: Johnny Sexton kicked Ireland into a 9-0 lead after 20 minutes and guided his side to a comfortable victory with five penalties and conversion, missing just one kick, a touchline conversion for the opening try which struck a post.
Ref watch: At age 29, New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe was younger than many of the players but he controlled this game with a calm authority. South Africa’s indiscipline let them down with a high penalty count.
Penalties conceded: Ireland 8 + 1 free-kick South Africa 12 + 1 free-kick
Injuries: Flanker Peter O’Mahony suffered a cut ear in the first half and appeared to suffer a shoulder knock just before the interval. He did return after the break with his head bandaged but was withdrawn on 50 minutes. South Africa lost loosehead prop to a knee injury in the first minute.
Next up: Ireland’s Guinness Series continues next Saturday with the visit of Fiji to Dublin, while the Springboks move on to Paris to take on France at Stade De France on the same day, a game that will mark Johann van Graan’s final Test as forwards coach before taking up the Munster reins from Rassie Erasmus on November 20.
Ireland V South Africa Player Ratings
Ireland produced an impressive performance to beat South Africa 38-3 in Dublin.
Rob Kearney: Still able to churn out the performances after all these years. 7/10
Andrew Conway: Rapid reflexes conjured the pivotal score, fine game. 9
Robbie Henshaw: Never quite able to cut loose but a constant threat. 7
Bundee Aki: Encouraging debut from the pumped-up Connacht man. 7
Jacob Stockdale: Alert and canny operator who proved his Test class and claimed a late try too. 7
Johnny Sexton: Missed several tackles but posted the points and ran the show. 7
Conor Murray: The world’s best scrum-half delivered yet again. 8
Cian Healy: Bullish showing from the Leinster wrecking ball prop. 7
Rory Best (captain): Reconfirmed his quality to lead at this level. 8
Tadhg Furlong: More sterling work from a standout star. 8
Iain Henderson: Delivering on the physical promise that has been evident for years. 8
Devin Toner: Another solid shift from Mr Dependable. 7
Peter O’Mahony: Grafted in the shadows, just the way he likes it. 8
CJ Stander: The South Africa-born Munster man showed his home country what they missed out on. 8
Sean O’Brien: Another bruising performance from the feisty Leinster star. 8
Replacements: Late scores from Rhys Ruddock and Rob Herring underpinned Ireland’s well-deployed bench. 8
Ireland run in four tries and send Springboks packing
Ireland were too good for South Africa in Dublin, scoring four tries in a convincing 38-3 victory on Saturday.
South Africa look likely to beat Ireland to hosting Rugby World Cup 2023 – but on the field Joe Schmidt’s men appear some distance ahead of the rebuilding Springboks.
Andrew Conway set things in motion, snatching Conor Murray’s bouncing ball high bomb clean away from three defenders, before racing into the corner.
Rhys Ruddock sneaked home for Ireland’s second try, after powerful Ulster wing Jacob Stockdale and Conway had cut South Africa apart.
Rob Herring capped a driven lineout before Jacob Stockdale claimed the final try, as Ireland glossed the score at the end.
Wing Conway excelled on claiming his first try on his fifth Test, the 26-year-old the beneficiary of Ireland’s decision to omit Munster team-mate Simon Zebo – who heads to Racing 92 in France next season.
Johnny Sexton booted 14 points at the Aviva Stadium as Schmidt’s men oozed calmness against the robust but limited visitors.
Ireland will move on to host Fiji and Argentina in the next fortnight, with hopes fast rising of a November clean sweep.
Debutant centre Bundee Aki hurtled into Test rugby in an emotional dervish, almost crying in the anthems, then pummelling Coenie Oosthuizen in a brutal tackle.
The Springboks prop hobbled off after his knee buckled under the sheer force, and one monster scrum later and Ireland had the lead.
Sexton posted the penalty to settle November nerves, before Andries Coetzee kicked away poorly to botch a try-scoring chance for the visitors.
Fly-half Sexton slotted two more penalties, first with South Africa killing the ball, then when Eben Etzebeth was pinged for kicking at a ruck.
Iain Henderson then bulldozed towering Springboks skipper Etzebeth in a remarkable feat to shake the visitors’ core.
Ireland rocked the Springboks again with the first half’s only try, Conway latching onto Murray’s bouncing bomb with lightning speed, before haring into the corner for a fine finish.
Sexton hit the post from the touchline conversion attempt, and then Ireland had to cling on.
South Africa punted a facile penalty to the corner, but paid the price when CJ Stander conjured a masterful ruck turnover.
The tourists botched another scoring chance when bungling an overlap, and Ireland carried their 14-0 lead into the break.
A rare error from Stander, a high tackle on Tendai Mtawarira, handed the Springboks their first points on the restart, with Elton Jantjies slotting the penalty.
Aki’s big hit on Jesse Kriel and replacement flanker Ruddock’s pivotal turnover set Ireland back on the front foot.
Sexton’s fourth penalty edged Ireland 17-3 ahead, before Ruddock powered home after Stockdale and Conway combined to devastating effect.
That second score broke South Africa’s stubborn resistance, and Herring quickly powered over for a well-worked driven lineout try.
Stockdale capped a flowing move for the fourth with the game’s final play, after smart industry from debutant Darren Sweetnam.