Ireland 19-16 South Africa: Hosts consolidate No 1 world ranking with victory at Aviva Stadium
Josh van der Flier and Mack Hansen scored tries in the 48th and 50th minute respectively, while Johnny Sexton landed three penalties as Ireland clinched a hard-fought win over world champions South Africa in Dublin; the Boks scored late on through Franco Mostert and Kurt-Lee Arendse
By Michael Cantillon at Aviva Stadium
Last Updated: 06/11/22 7:12am
Two tries in two second-half minutes proved crucial as Ireland consolidated their No 1 ranking in world rugby with a bruising 19-16 victory over world champions South Africa at the Aviva Stadium.
Openside flanker Josh van der Flier and wing Mack Hansen both struck early in the second half, after skipper Johnny Sexton had landed two first-half penalties, before adding a crucial third with six minutes remaining.
Ireland 19-16 South Africa - Score summary
Ireland - Tries: Van der Flier (48), Hansen (50). Pens: Sexton (3, 36, 74).
South Africa - Tries: Mostert (67), Arendse (76). Pens: Willemse (9), Kolbe (40+2).
In a Test beset by injuries and ferociously physical confrontations, a pair of penalties was all South Africa could muster in Dublin until replacement lock Franco Mostert scored a try with 13 minutes to go to set up a nervy finish, and wing Kurt-Lee Arendse added a second with four minutes left.
The visitors also had full-back Cheslin Kolbe sin-binned in the opening half for a dangerous tip-tackle on Hansen.
A raucous home crowd saluted another big step forward for Andy Farrell's charges come full-time, as they secured victory over the Springboks in a first meeting against the world champions since 2017 - with both sides drawn together in Pool B at next year's Rugby World Cup in France.
Centre Robbie Henshaw pulled out late through injury, as Stuart McCloskey came in to start. Ulster wing Robert Baloucoune started for only his third cap, with James Lowe (calf), Andrew Conway (knee) and Keith Earls (thigh) all injured. Scrum-half Conor Murray started on the occasion of his 100th Ireland cap, with Jamison Gibson-Park on the bench. Centre Bundee Aki was suspended, while lock Iain Henderson (knee) remained out.
For SA, Cheslin Kolbe returned from three months out with a broken jaw to play his first Test at full-back. Damian Willemse was selected at out-half, while Kurt-Lee Arendse was recalled to the right wing.
After a bright start, Ireland took the lead in the third minute after centre Garry Ringrose did brilliantly to claim a deflected Conor Murray box-kick just outside the South Africa 22, and Springboks loosehead Steven Kitshoff was penalised for failing to roll away, handing Sexton the chance to drive between the posts from close range.
A misjudgement at the restart saw the ball drift off and over second row Tadhg Beirne and into touch, after which the visitors forced a penalty via their trademark rolling maul.
The Springboks chose to kick to touch rather than attempt a shot at goal, and though they worked through 18 phases of attack in the 22, resolute Irish defence kept them at bay until prop Tadhg Furlong was penalised for offside after a loose ball.
This time, South Africa and skipper Siya Kolisi chose to take the three points on offer, as out-half Damian Willemse tapped over for 3-3.
A hectic start saw both sides competing hugely at the breakdown, and Ireland offloading and running out from deep, with the next presentable chance coming in the 14th minute, after No 8 Jasper Wiese harried Murray into a knock-on just outside the Ireland 22.
Ireland showed more strong defence to repel the attack, however, as No 8 Caelan Doris - with assistance from centre Stuart McCloskey, who was a late call-up to start for Robbie Henshaw - jackalled to win a vital breakdown penalty.
After a lovely midfield strike-play involving Sexton, Ringrose and Hugo Keenan, Kolbe - returning for the first time since a jaw injury in July - was sin-binned in the 17th minute for lifting Ireland wing Hansen dangerously above the horizontal in the tackle.
Ireland kicked to the corner in search of a try, but a stunning tackle by wing Makazole Mapimpi on Keenan, before a ferocious counter-ruck, saw the visitors earn a penalty and clear the danger.
The hosts looked to have completed an important turnover of their own when Sexton and McCloskey combined to force a choke tackle maul and unplayable possession, but TMO Stuart Terheege brought a neck-hold by Sexton in the maul's formation to referee Nika Amashukeli's attention and awarded South Africa the penalty.
Willemse poorly struck wide off the tee, however, and with his next chance - Ireland having been penalised at a counter-ruck - South Africa chose to kick to the corner. It proved the wrong call when the visitors were pinged for sealing off at a ruck while attacking in the 22 - lock Lood de Jager the culprit.
If the home side had defended well, though, they had failed to take advantage of Kolbe's time in the sin-bin, with the diminutive back returning for no further points conceded.
Having lost Henshaw to injury on Friday, and with Bundee Aki suspended, Ireland suffered a blow when the forceful McCloskey departed with a serious-looking arm injury, and the uncapped Jimmy O'Brien - ordinarily a back-three player - came on to play in midfield.
A Peter O'Mahony breakdown turnover handed Ireland their next attacking opportunity in the South Africa half, and though possession was not clean from the lineout, a Dan Sheehan charge-down on Willemse almost brought the opening try, but replays showed the Irish hooker just failed to ground the bouncing ball.
Ireland continued to threaten as the first half drew to a close, with 10 phases of possession in the South Africa 22 forthcoming, and when tighthead Frans Malherbe tackled James Ryan without arms, Sexton notched his second penalty for the lead.
A penalty against Ireland at the lineout for an early drive saw South Africa kick to the corner again, but a crucial Ryan steal saw the home side clear.
South Africa would head in at half-time level, however, as a penalty against Ireland for offside in the final play saw Kolbe strike over from close-range for 6-6.
Ireland tighthead Furlong failed to re-emerge after half-time due to an ankle injury, while scrum-half Murray and South Africa's De Jager also limped off in a Test filled with injuries.
Sexton had the chance to nudge Ireland back in front off the tee early in the second half - after a wonderful O'Brien break and stunning Gibson-Park reverse offload occurred in quick succession - but turned the shot down after consultation with second row Ryan.
It paid immediate dividends when openside Van der Flier did outstandingly well to touch down in the corner after a rolling maul had been driven forward and wide.
The Ireland skipper hooked the difficult conversion wide, with heavy strapping on his right leg, but within moments Ireland were over for a stunning second try through Hansen down the left.
After Doris did superbly to mop up a loose ball out wide and offload inside for Van der Flier, Ireland passed into the centre of the pitch where scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park made the key line break, before passes on the run found Beirne, Keenan, O'Brien and then Hansen.
Sexton put the conversion wide again, leaving the hosts ahead by 10 points, and approaching the hour mark Ireland produced a big turnover, halting South Africa's rolling maul again with Beirne and Ryan to the fore. O'Mahony quelled the next threat, producing a magnificent counter-ruck turnover.
With 17 minutes left on the clock, the Springboks passed up a golden chance for a try when lock Eben Etzebeth first ran straight with an overlap on out wide to pass to, before Willemse knocked on when the ball did travel to the edge.
Four minutes later, South Africa did finally have a try when Mostert reached out a long arm on a good line to ground the ball, but Kolbe crucially missed the straightforward conversion off the post.
Ireland reacted to bring play back to the South Africa 22, and once a penalty was secured for South Africa's Vincent Koch failing to roll away, Sexton stepped up to nail a testing kick from out wide to create a two-score lead.
With four minutes to go, Arendse struck out of nothing for a second South Africa try after a phenomenal over-the-top Etzebeth offload.
Again, Kolbe was off target with the conversion, however, with Ireland able to see out the remaining time professionally, to the delight of coaching staff and supporters.
Farrell's Ireland next host Fiji at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, November 12, in a 1pm (GMT) kick-off for the second of their three autumn internationals this Test window.
Ireland's Autumn Internationals
|Saturday, November 5||Ireland 19-16 South Africa||5.30pm|
|Saturday, November 12||Ireland vs Fiji||1pm|
|Saturday, November 19||Ireland vs Australia||8pm|
For Jacques Nienaber and the Springboks, they next travel to face France at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday, November 12, in an 8pm (GMT) kick-off.
South Africa's Autumn Internationals
|Saturday, November 5||Ireland 19-16 South Africa||5.30pm|
|Saturday, November 12||France vs South Africa||8pm|
|Saturday, November 19||Italy vs South Africa||1pm|
|Saturday, November 26||England vs South Africa||5.30pm|