Ireland claim thrilling win over world champions South Africa

Ireland claim thrilling win over world champions South Africa

IRELAND held off a late charge from world champions South Africa to claim a thrilling 19-16 win at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Andy Farrell's men led 16-6 with just over 15 minutes remaining in their opening Autumn Nations Series game thanks to tries from Josh van der Flier and Mack Hansen.

Tries from Franco Mostert and Kurt-Lee Arendse either side of a crucial Johnny Sexton penalty made for a tense finish.

Josh van der Flier scores Ireland's first try (Image: Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

However, Ireland held on for a second consecutive victory over South Africa following their 38-3 thrashing of the Springboks in the 2017 autumn international.

"We stood up tall, and so did they," Farrell told RTÉ Sport after the game.

"They are a hell of a team, but to come out the right side of a victory is super pleasing for us."

Injury woes

Defences were on top in an absorbing first half in which Ireland — currently ranked number one in the world — lost Stuart McCloskey, Conor Murray and Tadhg Furlong to injury.

An early Sexton penalty was cancelled out by Damian Willemse after eight minutes before Cheslin Kolbe was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Hansen.

Despite Ireland's numerical advantage, it was the Springboks who came closest to going in front only for Willemse to send his penalty wide midway through the half.

With South Africa back to their full complement, Ireland upped the tempo .

It looked as though Dan Sheehan had crossed the whitewash after charging down a Willemse clearance, however the TMO confirmed there was a knock-on.

Sexton did restore the lead with another penalty but again the visitors levelled through Kolbe with the last kick of the half.


Despite their injury problems, Ireland found another level after the break and their early pressure was rewarded with a van der Flier try on 45 minutes.

Awarded a penalty after an offside from Frans Malherbe, Sexton chose to kick for the corner with van der Flier grounding the ball before South Africa could kick it into touch.

Sexton missed the conversion but Hansen added a second try minutes later, Ireland capitalising on a South African handling error at the ruck before the ball was beautifully worked from right to left for the Connacht wing to dot down and make it 16-6.

Kurt-Lee Arendse scores South Africa's second try (Image: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Again, Sexton missed the conversion before South Africa mounted their fightback, Kwagga Smith's quick-tap penalty bringing the Springboks into Ireland's 22 only for Willemse to knock on.

However, the visitors made the breakthrough moments later when Mostert went over before Kolbe's conversion struck the post.

Sexton's penalty five minutes later gave Ireland some crucial breathing space, coming as it did shortly before Arendse got South Africa's second try with five minutes remaining.

However, Kolbe again missed the conversion as Ireland held out for their sixth win over South Africa in their last eight meetings on Irish soil.

Next up for Ireland is Fiji, who visit the Aviva next Saturday, having lost 28-12 to Scotland at Murrayfield yesterday.