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Boks see off Ireland in tense and gritty Loftus encounter

MATCH REPORT: The Springboks recorded their first win over Ireland in eight years after they edged Saturday’s Loftus Versfeld encounter 27-20.


It was a gritty and nervy encounter in Pretoria with both teams getting three tries in the 80 minutes.

Both teams had periods in the match where they dominated possession, and it took some crucial moments in the game to separate the sides.

One of those moments was Cheslin Kolbe’s try in the 65th minute after he fed on a loose ball that James Lowe provided trying to keep the ball in play from a Handre Pollard kick.

It was a terrific start for the Springboks with Kurt-Lee Arendse ghosting through Ireland’s defence to score the opening try in the third minute after some slick passing and several phases in the build-up.

Pollard made it a 7-0 lead with his conversion.


Ireland nearly hit straight back after the restart with some sustained pressure, but they were met by a brick wall inside the Boks’ 22.

The visitors got their first points of the game in the 13th minute with Jack Crowley’s penalty after Ox Nche was pinged for not rolling away.

A few minutes later the Boks added three points of their own through Pollard in the 18th minute after Ireland were blown for the same offence.

With the Springboks constantly applying the pressure with ball in hand, Ireland gave away another penalty with Pollard converting it into another three points in the 29th minute.


Ireland needed to get a bit of the ball in their hands and when they had it they forced another penalty at the breakdown, but Crowley pulled his attempt to wide of the poles.

Andy Farrell’s side had another mini spell with ball in hand not long after that and they were rewarded when James Lowe produced some magic to keep the ball in play before offloading to Jamie Osborne who dived over for a try in the corner.

Crowley pulled his conversion wide.

Pollard had a chance to give his side more breathing space just before half-time with a long-range penalty kick, but he also struggled to find the right direction.

After some more sustained pressure by the Boks in the opening minutes of the second half, Pollard had another opportunity to increase the lead with a penalty and he pulled his kick wide again.

After absorbing the Springbok pressure, Ireland thought they had scored a runaway try via Lowe in the 58th minute. However, after a TMO review, it was ruled that the visitors won the ball illegally at the ruck in the build-up to that score.

Pollard couldn’t convert that penalty into three points as he again hooked the ball wide of the poles.

However, the Boks eventually increased their lead in the 65th minute with some magic from wing Cheslin Kolbe.

In the process of trying to prevent the ball from going out of play from a Pollard penalty, Lowe threw the ball inside and Kolbe was on hand to pounce on it and kick it ahead before scoring.

There was a bit of drama before the try was allowed as the TMO was checking to see if Lowe was in contact with the ball when his foot went out into touch. However, the officials stuck with the on-field decision.

Pollard also had his kicking boots on again to add the extra two points with the conversion.

Ireland were given some hope in the 74th minute after Arendse was shown a yellow card for the Boks’ repeated infringements inside their own 22.

And not long after that Connor Murray was put into space in the midfield to race away for his team’s second try in the 75th minute.

Crowley made it a five-point game with his conversion.

However, the Boks crucially got some breathing space in the 78th minute again after a powerful scrum near the Ireland tryline led to a penalty try and it all started after Lowe failed to gather the restart.

Ireland had the final say with a Ryan Baird try with the Boks holding on for the win in the closing minutes.

Man of the match: Springbok captain Siya Kolisi was a powerhouse with ball in hand and he certainly gave Robbie Henshaw a huge headache with a big fend-off. Centre Jesse Kriel looked good with ball in hand, but his work on defence was outstanding once again. For Ireland, Jamie Osborne had a good Test debut in the No.15 jersey, while scrumhalf Craig Casey and Caelan Doris produced some eye-catching performances. However, we gave the award to Bok loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit who was outstanding in the wide channels with ball in hand and his physicality gave his side an edge in certain areas of the game.

Moment of the match: There were a few. James Lowe had a try disallowed in the first quarter of the second half before he played a role in giving Cheslin Kolbe a crucial try in the 65th minute.

The villain of the match: It was a hard-fought match with some great moments. There were no villains.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Arendse, Kolbe, Penalty Try
Cons: Pollard 2
Pens: Pollard 2

For Ireland:
Tries: Osborne, Lowe, Baird
Con: Crowley
Pen: Crowley

Yellow cards: Kurt-Lee Arendse (South Africa, 74′ – repeated infringements); Ronan Kelleher (Ireland, 77′ – cynical play)


South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Marco van Staden, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Ireland: 15 Jamie Osborne, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony (captain), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 James Ryan, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Ciaran Frawley, 23 Garry Ringrose.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Mike Adamson (Scotland)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

Photo credit: Johan Orton / Gallo Images

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