Ireland v South Africa

In the backdrop of the battle for the 2023 World Cup Ireland face South Africa at the Aviva

John O'Sullivan Sat, Nov 11
LIVE: Ireland v South Africa

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  • Hello and welcome to the Irish Times live blog of Ireland v South Africa from the Aviva stadium (5.30). John O'Sullivan here and I'll be taking you through all the action as Joe Schmidt's team look to get the November series off to a winning start ahead of matches against Fiji and Argentina over the next few weeks.  

  • It's a bit on the cold side but it's no longer raining.  
  • Here are the teams.


    IRELAND:  Rob Kearney (Leinster); Andrew Conway (Munster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster); Johnny Sexton (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster); Cian Healy (Leinster), Rory Best (Ulster, capt), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster); Iain Henderson (Ulster), Devin Toner (Leinster); Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Seán O’Brien (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster).

    Replacements:  Rob Herring (Ulster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), John Ryan (Munster), James Ryan (Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Joey Carbery  (Leinster), Darren Sweetnam (Munster).

    SOUTH AFRICA:  A Coetzee; D Leyds, J Kriel, D de Allende, C Skosan; E Jantjies, R Cronje; T Mtawarira, M Marx, C Oosthuizen; E Etzebeth (capt), L de Jager; S Kolisi, P du Toit, F Louw.

    Replacements:  B Mbonambi, S Kitshoff, W Louw, F Mostert, U Cassiem, R Paige, H Pollard, F Venter.

    Referee:  Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)  

  • Looking forward to watching Bundee Aki in his first cap for Ireland.  
  • Here are some other stats you might like to know ahead of the kickoff.  
  • Overall head to head:  Played 25. Ireland 6 wins. 1 draw. South Africa 18 wins.

    Last five meetings:  2016:  South Africa won 19-13 in Port Elizabeth; 2016:  South Africa won 32-26 in Johannesburg; 2016:  Ireland won 26-20 in Cape Town; 2014:  Ireland won 29-15 in Dublin; 2012:  South Africa won 16-12 in Dublin.

    Betting:  (Paddy Power): 4/9 Ireland, 19/1 Draw, 15/8 South Africa. Handicap odds (South Africa + 6pts) 10/11 Ireland, 25/1 Draw, 10/11 South Africa.

  • The Sprinkboks will be wearing their traditional colours while Ireland will switch to their new grey second jersey.  
  • The Springboks returning to the warmth of the dressingrooms.  
  • You can read Gerry Thornley's preview here
  • The teams are read out over the tannoy system and there's a huge cheer for Aki.  
  • Sean O'Brien is winning his 50th cap today.  
  • Dion O’Cuinneagain, born in Cape Town but who won 19 caps for Ireland between 1998 and 2000 including playing in the 1999 Rugby World Cup, spoke to Sport 24 website in South Africa this week about the difference between the structures in Irish and South African rugby. He played for and captained the South African Sevens team and also captained Ireland, having qualified to play through his Dublin father, Connell.

    Here’s what he had to say
  • There is 15 minutes to kickoff and we are awaiting the arrival of the teams back out and in match gear.  
  • Johnny Watterson spoke to Rory Best. The article with the Ireland captain is here.
  • Gavin Cummiskey caught with with former Ireland scrumhalf John Robbie, who has lived in South Africa for over 30 years. Here are his views and the game and the race for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
  • Right that's all your required reading. The teams are out and ready for the anthems. Sean O'Brien got to lead out Ireland.  
  • Sorry first we're going to have President Michael D Higgins greet the teams.  
  • Springbok coach Alluster Coetzee has taken a few gambles on his team selection, no doubt calculated from his perspective and on area is the backrow. Bath flanker Francois Louw has won 53 of his 54 caps as a flanker but today plays at number eight.  
  • Pieter-Steph du Toit is a secondrow but has to play at flanker. He was a try scorer when Ireland beat the Springboks in a test in South Africa last summer for the first time. It is a backrow who excelled against the All Blacks on their first outing as a trio.  

  • Anthems are nearly complete. Just Ireland's Call to go.  
  • A lot of focus on Bundee Aki during the anthems. He's belting out Ireland's Call for those of you who want to know.    
  • Ireland hitting the pads as they get rid of the orange walkway rather than red carpet.  
  • South African outhalf Elton Jantjes will get the game underway.  
  • Ireland in an all grey strip.  
  • Game on.  
  • In the gloom it's hard to tell the teams apart but there's no mistaking that Ki tackle. Great hit on Springbok tighthead Coenie Oosthuizen, who has unfortunately tweaked a knee.  
  • Referee Ben O'Keefe is sorting out what way he's call the teams, Black and Green is his choice.  
  • 77 seconds: Sadly Oosthuizen is leaving on a stretcher. Wilco Louw, a very good prop is his replacement.  
  • Going to have a reset scrum. In fairness every referee starts by saying 'we talked about this before the match"..........and no one's honouring their promise.  
  • Ireland drive the Springbok frontrow up and Tadhg Furlong forces the Beast to take a knee for which he is penalised.  
  • 3 mins: Jonathan Sexton will kick at goal from the South Africa 10 metre line.  
  • Right down the black spot.

    3 mins: Ireland 3 South Africa 0

  • Great work from Aki to tidy up a loose restart. He's started very well.  
  • Kick tennis which ends in Springbok possession. Cronje hoists an up and under, Kearney knockos on under pressure and then Coetzee inexplicably kicks away good attacking ball. Andrew Conway finds an excellent touch on halfway.    
  • Toner catches a short up and under and Jacob Stockdale does well on thr touchline in no space. Conor Murray knocks on at a ruck but Louw had done so first but that was missed by the referee, something Rory Best points out politely.  
  • Scrum to South Afica on halfway line.  
  • Good continuity from South Africa and right as I type a loose Springbok pass straight into touch.  
  • South Africa concede a second scrum penalty and again it's the Beast Mtawarira, who is pinged for walking around in trying to wheel the scrum.  
  • 11 mins: There is little continuity. On cue. Sexton with a loose pass behind Rob Kearney. I say loose pass but it looked of a bit of an overrun from the fullback.  
  • Freekick at another scrum and Ireland tap and go. Springboks are penalised to rolling into Murray and slowing down possession at a ruck.  
  • 14 mins: Sexton penalty from 36 metres and he drives in between the posts.

    Ireland 6 South Africa 0

  • Good pressure and discipline from the Irish defence for the most part although if Springbok secondrow Lood de Jager had seen the numbers wide, South Africa might have got outside the first line defence.  
  • Cian Why are we wearing grey at home?
  • If there is a clash of colours the home team changes and Ireland's new second choice kit is grey.  
  • Sexton puts Conway away and he races to the South African 22. The visitors are penalised for kicking the ball out of the ruck.  
  • 19 mins: Sexton lands his third penalty, this time from 22 metres.  

    Ireland 9 South Africa 0

  • Great tackle by Stander on Mtawarira.  
  • Superb catch from Conway and he breaks the first tackle to give his side front foot ball.  
  • The aerial bombardment continues.  
  • Good run from Kearney. Ireland retain possession through several phases the most memorable of which was an Iain Henderson handoff on Etzebeth. Louw then empties O'Brien and that passage ends with an Irish lineout on the South African 10 metre line.  
  • TRY: Conway.
  • Ireland try and maul the lineout, it doesn't get much traction in terms of metres, Murray launches a box-kick that isn't claimed initially but Conway was so sharp to pilfer it from under Courtnall Skosan's nose and sprints in from 30-metres.
  • Super, super finish. Very sharp.
  • 25 mins: Sexton hits the upright with the touchline conversion and Ireland have a firm grip on the game.

    Ireland 14 South Africa 0

  • I thought that Ireland were doing a little bit too much kicking but Murray's last effort led to the try. What's important with most of the kicks is that they are being contested in the air, not always, but for the most part and Ireland are picking up the breaks.  
  • Ireland have targeted Springbok right wing Courtnall Skosan in the air. South Africa get some relief as the Irish backline is caught offside. The visitors have a lineout on the Irish 10 metre line.  
  • They take it down and maul. Jantjes is taken out by Sexton after the ball was gone. Silly and miles late. South Africa got to the corner.    
  • They win the lineout and maul it again. Some heay carrying from du Toit, Etzebeth and some aggressive Irish defence, rounded off by a brilliant penalty win by CJ Stander. Got over the tackled player and couldn't be moved. It allows Sexton to take play to the Irish 10 metre line.  
  • That passage of play sums up South Africa's day, Ireland turnover possession with a Henderson fumble, South Africa move the ball wide one way and then coming back they have numbers up out wide and somehow contrive not alone to pass early on three occasions but then throw the ball into touch for good measure.  
  • Cronje penalised for not rolling away after tackling Stander as he picked from an Irish scrum.  
  • It's only slightly disconcerting to hear Ireland referred to as 'Black' by the referee.    
  • Superb covering by Henshaw who grabs a loose ball, acceerates away from a tackler and kicks the ball long into the South Africa 22. He chases his kick, Collars Coetzee who trys to run around him and Ireland end up with a lineout 25 metres from the South Africa line.  
  • Great steal from Peter O'Mahony whose had a superb half. Ireland can't capitalise, their back play isn't quite firing. The last action of the half is another misplaced pass, this time from the home side.

    HALFTIME: Ireland 14 South Africa 0

  • Ireland will be reasonably satisfied at half-time. They've forced the Springboks into conceding penalties, and took, what to be honest was only a half chance. Conway was very sharp to snaffle out the chance.  

    From a creative perspective, it's been slightly disappointing. No quibble with the aerial tactics because the chase has been largely excellent, contesting the high balls but Ireland aren't getting much change from their maul and the backs are getting plenty of touches in their attacking gambits without really opening up the Springboks. The home side have had some joy getting the ball wide to Conway but the visitors scrmable defence has coped well.  

  • If you're a South African fan, it's been a torturous opening 40-minutes, plenty of grunt and one-out runners but the handling in the backline has been poorish and downright awful on a couple of occasions.  

    Looking for some consolation for the visitors they probably had the best two attacking moments of the half and could have scored at least one try. Ireland scrambled well but if it was the All Blacks, Ireland would have conceded tries on both occasions.  

  • As an aside Roan O'Gara, in the RTE studio as an analyst, had this to say about his proposed move to the Canterbury Crusaders to take up a role as assistant coach.


    “I’m in contract until July ’19, the horse has bolted big time with the story.

    “Communication has stated between the clubs . . .   There has been contact there, I’m not going to run away from it. But also you have to respect the fact that I’m really enjoying what’s going on in Paris, you have to take if from my point of view that I go to work there on Monday morning so let’s wait and see.”

  • It's been a bit of a kick-fest. If you're winning as Ireland are, you don't give a hoot about the aesthetic quality of the rugby, where as as a Springbok fan it'd be close to unwatchable. Not sure there are many neutrals, bt they can't be enjoying it much either.  
  • South Africa are back out and don't appear to have made any changes aside from the enforced early one.  
  • Ireland back and O'Mahony is sporting a head bandage.  
  • Springbosk must be tempted to get Handre Pollard on at 10, give them some direction.
  • Sexton starts and du Toit takes.  
  • Cronje boxkicks, Kearney fields but is then penalised for holding on.  
  • South Africa will have a lineout 25 metres from the Irish line.  
  • High tackle on Mtawarira, CJ Stander. Jantjes points to the posts. It's a dolly. Springboks going to get their first points. Two Irish penalties in the first three minutes of the half.  
  • 43 mins: Jantjes penalty, 22 metres.

    Ireland 14 South Africa 3

  • South Africa started much better in this half, Ireland strangely lethargic. Two penalties, a couple of missed first up tackles. They finally win a penalty on halfway and Sexton drives his side into the South African 22 with the resultant kick.  
  • Ireland maul and South Africa get turnover ball as they first stop it and then du Toit holds up Best.  
  • That's so sloppy from Ireland. Another poor turnover fires a pass not intended for Henderson but it boiunces off the latter's shoulder as he runs a line. This game could go away from the home side if they're not careful. Very loose start to the second half. Superb tackle by Aki on Kriel as he drags him into touch.  
  • South Africa steal Irish lineout. Du Toit.  
  • Beast Mtawarira goes for a surge through the middle of ruck but Stockdale gets over the ball and steals it. Great work.

    50 mins: Rhys Ruddock for O'Mahony.  

  • Fine 50 minutes from O'Mahony but picked up a couple of bangs.  
  • Another fumble, another dropped pass from Ireland. Henshaw this time. Just took his eye off the ball, having earlier flicked the ball up beautifully off the ground.  
  • Brilliant from Ruddock, forces the penalty turnover.  
  • South Africa have dominated possession and territory in this half. Steven Kitsoff on for the Beast at loosehead.  
  • Springboks penalised for hands in the ruck despite the referee screaming at them to twice let go. Sexton will have a chance from 30 metres in front of the posts.  
  • 56 mins: Sexton penalty. Handere Pollard and Francois Venter on for Jantjes and de Allande.

    Ireland 17 South Africa 3

  • Again Ireland fail to protect the ball, Marx forcing the penalty turnover after Ireland had worked the inside pass from Best to Kearney at a ruck just outside the 22.  
  • Toner goes for intercept and almost gets it. Goodness wknows what he would have done with the 45-metre run to the line he would have left huimself.  
  • des o connell Who left both teams out in very similar coloured jerseys? Very difficult to watch on tv.
  • Another high ball from Cronje, Furlong touches the ball and Stander, in front of his teammate plays it. Penalty.  
  • Best grabs a turnover after Marx spills the ball in contact; Kearney with a huge clearing kick. It's pretty dreadful stuff though.  
  • South Africa with 67% of the possession in this half.  
  • Crowd are bored and starting a Mexican wave.  
  • Rory Best with a penalty turnover.  
  • As a spectacle it's arguably got worse in the second half.  
  • 66 mins: Dave Kilcoyne and Rob Herring for Healy and Best. Franco Mostert on for Lood de Jager.  
  • Murray boxkicks, Stockdale contests, lineout.  
  • South Africa walk the Irish pack about eight metres.  
  • Wonderful thumping tackle from 21-year-old Stockdale, hammers Leyds and forces a turnover scrum.  
  • 68 mins: Bongi Mbonambi for Marx and Uzair Cassiem for Kolisi.
  • Ireland win a scrum penalty and are about to make three changes.  
  • 70 mins: John Ryan for Furlong, James Ryan for Henderson, Kieran Marmion for Murray.  
  • TRY: Ruddock.  
  • The moment of rugby clarity from Ireland. LIneout ball off the top, a neat exchange in midfield, Stockdale off the blindside wing takes the inside pass from Sexton, opens up the Springboks, races 30 metres and fires to Conway. The wing takes play to within five metres of the Springbok line and two phases later Ruddock shows great feet and strength to power his way over. Superb try in conception and execution. Sexton adds the conversion.

    Ireland 24 South Africa 3

  • 74 mins: Darren Sweetnam on for Kearney to make his debut.  
  • 74 mins: Joey Carbery for Sexton.  
  • Kolisi back on for Du Toit and Rudy Paige has replaced Cronje.  

    Ireland marmalise the Springbok scrum. Penalty. Carbery to the corner.  

  • TRY: Herring.  
  • Gorgeous lineout move. Toner takes, Ireland set quickly get momentum and then having been slowed down twice, they get tight and Herring is driven over for his first Irish try. Carbery converts.

    Ireland 31 South Africa 3

  • Two beautifully worked tries definitely putting a gloss on the display.  

    Jonathan Sexton gets man of the match.  

  • TRY: Stockdale. Stunning effort. Stockdale with the initial break. Carbery's cross-kick for Sweetnam was inch perfect, the Munster wing did brilliantly to collect and dtay infield. Herring with a fantastic clearout and then Ireland sweep wide again and Stockdale runs it in. Carbery with the touchline conversion.

    Ireland 38 South Africa 3

  • In those last 15-minuets Ireland produced three stunning tries. South Africa were tiring, had made changes but that shouldn't detract from the way Ireland sliced and diced them. It's a record margin of victory.

    FULLTIME: Ireland 38 South Africa 3

  • Sexton: "I thought the new faces were outstanding and proved their selection. Delighted to get the win over South Africa. I'm sure the boss will find lots to give out to us about. We have plenty to improve on. I think the score flattered us a bit. Plenty to work on going into next week and the week after. "    
  • Those comments from the man of the match, Sexton pretty much sums up the contest. The late tries will leave a pleasant afterglow but the first 60-minutes from a creativity perspective, the number of knocks-on and spilled ball will made the Monday review less easy on the eye.

    Still a 35-point win over the Springboks is hardly something to be sniffed at even if the final score was harsh on the visitors.    

  • Bundee Aki had an excellent debut, Sweetnam got his first cap too, Stockdale brilliant in the closing passages of the match and can be very satisfied. The bench added momentum. There were a lot of fine individual displays, the pack as a whole, Sexton and Murray grew into it as the game wore on, Robbie Henshaw defended that outside channel very well and his relationship in defence with Aki was a real plus. Conway took his try well, as did Ruddock and Herring.    
  • O'Brien and O'Mahony (50 minutes) both made some telling contributions as did the front row.  

    The 'Boks were hugely disappointing and after a big step forward in their last match against the All Blacks, this was several paces back towards the levels in the previous match against New Zealand in which they were handed a 57-0 drubbing.

  • Great result, Ireland's defence was good for most of the game, disciplined for the most part, and they escaped on the scoreboard through penalties before the crescendo.  

    Thanks for your time, comments and company. I'll be back next week.