Ireland 38 South Africa 3
In the opening game of the 2017 Guinness International Series at the Aviva Stadium, Ireland faced arguably their most difficult opponents of the Autumn Internationals, South Africa.
In what many had suggested would be an Irish victory in a tight game, it turned out in fact to be a rout of the Springboks by the home side, registering a record 38-3 score against South Africa.
The biggest talking point of the early stages of the Test match was the jersey clash and the difficult in differentiating between the sides with Ireland playing in their grey strip while the visitors played in their traditional green.
The hosts hit the front as early as the fourth minute when Ireland won a scrum and the referee, Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand, awarded them a kickable penalty, the first of 6 conceded by South Africa in the opening 40 minutes. Leinster’s Johnny Sexton duly obliged to put the first three points of the evening on the scoreboard.
The Ireland fly-half added two further penalties, in the 15th and 20th minutes respectively, to increase the home side’s lead to 9-0.
The impressive-fielding Andrew Conway caught a ball over 30m from the South African line in the 25th minute, before the Dublin-born player raced along the East Stand side touchline to score his first international try and put Ireland into a comfortable 14-0 lead. Sexton missed a very difficult conversion attempt from out on the touchline on 27 minutes – his first missed kick at the posts in the opening period.
In what had been an impressive first half display, Ireland crucially kept the scoreboard ticking over and finished the 40 minutes having won 5/5 scrums, 5/5 lineouts, and had only conceded three penalties.
A backlash was expected from the visitors at the beginning of the second period, and it materialised for a while. Elton Jantjies got the Springboks opening score of the game after 44 minutes when he slotted over a penalty awarded for a CJ Stander tackle.
This would be the South African’s only score of the game as Ireland soon put their guests to the sword. A fourth successful Johnny Sexton penalty kick in the 57th minute increased the home side’s lead (17-3) before tries from Rhys Ruddock (who had replaced Peter O’Mahony), Rob Herring (who was making only his 2nd Irish appearance) and Jacob Stockdale (first International try) put Ireland well out of sight.
Sexton’s conversion of Ruddock’s try, as well as successful conversions of both Herring’s and Stockdale’s five-pointers by Sexton’s replacement Joey Carbery meant the Lansdowne Road humiliation of the Rugby Championship side was complete.
Next weekend Ireland will face Fiji at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.30pm) before the November Internationals series is completed on Saturday 25th against old rivals Argentina (kick-off 5.30pm).