Mack Hansen, who scored against the Springboks in Dublin last year, scored the first try of the game
|South Africa: (3) 8|
|Attempt: Kolbe Pen: Libbok|
|Ireland: (7) 13|
|Attempt: Hansen Disadvantage: sexton Pencils: Sexton, Crowley|
Ireland remain in pole position at the top of Group B after beating defending champions South Africa in a low-scoring but thrilling World Cup clash in Paris.
While Ireland struggled, Manie Libbok gave South Africa the lead with a penalty in the first half before Mack Hansen had a go.
Cheslin Kolbe hit back for the Boks but after Libbok failed to convert, Johnny Sexton’s penalty gave Ireland the lead.
In a thrilling finish, Ireland’s defense absorbed the pressure before Jack Crowley’s penalty sealed the epic victory.
At the end of a brutal and relentless Test match, South Africa were pushing for a game-winning try, but after being repelled by a heroic defensive effort from the world’s best team at the 78,452-capacity Stade de France, Ireland’s winning performance was greeted with thunderous applause.
It is Ireland’s 16th consecutive Test win and a major boost to their World Cup hopes after they faced a ferocious South African side to move close to reaching the quarter-finals.
After wins over Scotland and Romania, South Africa remain on course to reach the last eight, but this was their first defeat in nine World Cup games and they must now regroup after being defeated in a titanic heavyweight clash by one of their biggest rivals became.
But the Springboks will rue their missed chances on a night where their unreliable goalkeeping prevented them from turning the game in their favour.
Ireland are ahead despite early mistakes in the first half
This was widely touted as the most anticipated game of the group stage, with the world’s two best teams clashing in a fascinating clash of styles: the speed and ruthlessness of the Irish attack against a powerful, economical South African defense that yielded just three points their first two games.
While Ireland won 19-16 when the two teams met in Dublin last year, it is common knowledge that South Africa are a completely different beast in rugby’s showpiece tournament.
Boks coach Mzwandile Stick had said on the eve of the game that “World Cups are a different story” and in the first half, in which Ireland made a series of uncharacteristic errors, his words seemed prophetic.
Although both teams showed early nerves, South Africa benefited from a cracking Irish starting line-up, with Libbok’s penalty coming at the end of a move sparked by one of Ronan Kelleher’s shots missing the target.
Despite being cheered on by a vociferous Irish support, the Grand Slam winners looked rattled, Springbok confidence growing with every fierce slap at a green jersey and Ireland’s frustration growing with every failed attempt to break the three-time champions.
With the brutal South African defense clearly unsettling their rivals, Ireland weathered the storm before momentum changed dramatically seven minutes before half-time when the in-form Bundee Aki, winning his 50th cap, scored a brilliant shot.
Aki, who previously made a crucial tackle on Jesse Kriel, showed pace and power to take his team up the field. This time Ireland remained patient and moved the ball deftly before Hansen touched down with a thunderous roar – despite approaching the dead-ball line – after Sexton had been inches away from an excellent try of his own.
The experienced fly-half hit the target and gave Ireland a 7-3 lead. The returning feel-good factor was helped by the return of Garry Ringrose after passing a head injury assessment (HIA).
Springboks cannot capitalize
Libbok missed a conversion and missed a penalty with 16 minutes left
Despite finishing the first half victorious, Ireland continued to struggle with the starting line-up after the restart, but were awarded a free kick when Faf de Klerk’s half-time penalty hit the post.
From then on, the Springboks increased the pressure and eventually played the ball wide to Kolbe, who sent a cross to give the champions an 8-7 lead.
But after Libbok pushed his conversion attempt wide, Ireland regained the lead through a Sexton penalty.
To watch the game, South Africa gradually turned to their much-discussed ‘bomb squad’ – the seven forwards named on the bench – and while Ireland’s indiscipline offered the Boks a route back into the game, their kicking problems were compounded through Libbok and De Klerk failed to land penalties.
The Irish’s nerves were calmed somewhat when Crowley, Sexton’s fly-half replacement, gave them a five-point lead.
As the clock ticked, Irish fans cheered their team to victory, and while South Africa found time for one last attempt to claim victory, the players went green as the two nations’ first World Cup meeting ended in Irish ecstasy.
Having underlined their status as the world’s best team and serious Webb Ellis Cup contenders, Andy Farrell’s side face Scotland in two weeks’ time, while South Africa take on Tonga in their final group game next week.
South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Libbok, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (captain), Du Toit, Wiese.
Substitute: Fourie, Nche, Nyakane, Kleyn, Snyman, Van Staden, Smith, Reinach.
Ireland: Keenan; Hansen, Ringrose, Aki, Lowe; Sexton (captain), Gibson Park; Porter, Kelleher, Furlong, Ryan, Beirne, O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.
Substitute: Sheehan, Bealham, Kilcoyne, Henderson, Baird, Murray, Crowley, Henshaw.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Mathieu Raynal (France) and James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Source : www.bbc.co.uk