John_s_version_1South Africa (13) 20
TRY: Lwazi Mvovo, Pieter-Steph Du Toit. CON: Elton Jantjies (2) PEN: Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies.
Ireland (13) 26
TRY: Jared Payne, Conor Murray. CON: Paddy Jackson (2) PEN: Paddy Jackson (3). DG: Paddy Jackson.

Wow – what a weekend for Irish Rugby. Had to follow this match by text as we made our way back from Manchester after the U20’s equally historic win and finally got time to sit down and watch it this morning. 

I’m sure you’ve all caught up on this by now so this will just be a quick marker of the match details. 

Ireland got of to the best of starts with a 10th minute try after Luke Marshall slotted through a precision grubber for Jarred Payne to dot down. Paddy Jackson added the extras and Ireland received another boost as Lood de Jager was awarded a yellow card for an infringement earlier in the move. 

The visitors failed to capitalise on their extra man with Pat Lambie and Jackson swapping penalties before De Jager’s return and minutes later Ireland ‘s hopes took a blow when CJ Stander was red carded for his follow through on Lambie after an attempted charge down. 

It looked as if the game would spiral away from the Irish as South Africa took full advantage of their numerical superiority with a penalty from Lambie’s replacement, Elton Jantjies, who then stepped up six minutes later to convert a try from Lwazi Mvovo. 

With South Africa leading 13 – 10, Ireland’s task became even tougher as Robbie Henshaw was awarded a ten minute break after a high tackle on Jantjies but remarkable resolve on the part of the thirteen men saw them next on the score sheet as Jackson slots over a drop goal, after a period of pressure in the South African half. 

The teams turn round with the score reading South Africa 13 Ireland 13, next to score crucial!  

And it’s Ireland that get on the score sheet first in the second half. A Jackson, Payne, Trimble burst down the right ends up in the hands of Conor Murray who runs and rolls his way to the try line for Ireland’s second. Jackson converts and Ireland have a seven point lead to defend but it’s going to be a long thirty five minutes.

Twenty minutes passes without the scoreboard being troubled further and it’s Ireland that look most dangerous with breaks from Keith Earls and Jackson the only real activity of note. The match looks pretty much secured when Jackson slots over his second penalty of the afternoon to give Ireland a ten point lead with twelve minutes left. 

However, South Africa finally rouse themselves from their unfocused slumbers as replacement Pieter-Steph du Toit latches on to a loose pass from Jackson to trot under he posts unopposed. Janties conversion is good and its back to a three point game with ten to go. 

Remarkably, Ireland did deep and find still more resolve which results in Jackson slotting over his third penalty of the night to take the score to 20 – 26 with three minutes left. 

It’s down to final play time as the hooter goes with South Africa in possession. JP Pieterson has a dart at the line but is bundled into touch by three Ireland defenders and the game ends. Ireland win the final score reading South Africa 20 Ireland 26

Ireland: Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Robbie Henshaw, Luke Marshall, Keith Earls, Paddy Jackson, Conor Murray, Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Iain Henderson, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Sean Cronin, Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Furlong, Ultan Dillane, Rhys Ruddock, Kieran Marmion, Ian Madigan, Craig Gilroy. 

An excellent win by Ireland and I’m happy enough to get my pre-match prediction completely wrong, but it was a pretty rudderless South Africa and Ireland must convert this into a series win if it’s going to mean significant progress.

There are plenty of problems in South African rugby at the minute as you can see from the immediate reaction of fans over on Sharksworld and there are tougher tests ahead for Ireland. However, it’s a big confidence boost for Ireland and the Ulster boys in particular, who formed the defensive backbone of this team, and while the Boks will get better there is still plenty of room for improvement from this new look Irish side! #loverugby #yeswedo  

#SUFTUM