The transition from provincial rugby to the international scene has been effortless for Jacob Stockdale as he grabbed a try in Ireland’s 38-3 demolition over a shambolic Springboks side.
Rob Herring came off the bench to cross the line while Andrew Conway and Rhys Ruddock were the other try scorers.
Johnny Sexton gave Ireland an early lead with a penalty inside the first few minutes and then extended the lead to nine points with a further two penalties at the 20 minute mark. Andrew Conway was quickest to react to a Courtnall Skosan fumble off an unusually poor Conor Murray box kick to score Ireland’s first try.
Testament to Ireland’s excellent defence, South Africa did not breach the home side’s 22m line in the first quarter of the game. South Africa were laboured in attack and they only made one break in the whole game. Elton Jantjies’ failure to offer anything creative from out half allowed Ireland’s steady defensive pace to close the space of South Africa’s outside backs.
At half time, Ireland had not created much going forward but instead fed off the South African mistakes and it was enough to take a 14-point lead. Sexton responded to a Jantjies penalty with one of his own in the only points for 30 minutes of the second half.
Rhys Ruddock crossed the line to put the game beyond all reasonable doubt with ten minutes to go. Stockdale broke the Sprinbok defensive line after a great inside ball from Robbie Henshaw. Conway received the ball from Stockdale and took the contact five metres from the line allowing Ruddock to dive over for the killer blow in the next phase.
Rob Herring was the benefactor of a superbly set maul and he emerged with the ball for Ireland’s second try. Jacob Stockdale put the cherry on top of a great individual performance with a try in his first appearance for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. Darren Sweetnam gathered a great cross kick from Joey Carbery in the build up to Stockdale’s score.
Iain Henderson summed the match up when he bundled over the top of Springbok captain, Eben Etzebeth. It’s not too often that South Africa are outmuscled but yesterday they had no answer for Ireland’s strength and power even when they had a 40kg advantage in the pack. Stockdale himself put in a good performance which was rewarded at the end with a try.
Watching Ireland is the polar opposite of watching Ulster play. Ireland did not create many chances but the two that they did create resulted in two tries. South Africa’s attack improved marginally upon the arrival of Handre Pollard, however even then Ireland’s defence was barely tested. Ireland look much more comfortable in defence than Ulster.
I expect Ireland to win their remaining games against Fiji and Argentina comfortably, however their I don’t think their attack will be able to topple England in the Six Nations. Ireland take on Fiji next Saturday, 17:30 kick off.