Boks dis­ap­point against Ire­land

The vis­i­tors only had 14 men on the field for part of the game, but the Boks couldn’t turn their good for­tune to their ad­van­tage

CityPress - - Sport - ADNAAN MO­HAMED at New­lands sports@city­press.co.za

To say that the Spring­boks dis­ap­pointed in their first out­ing un­der new coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee is an un­der­state­ment. Ire­land made his­tory last night at New­lands when they be­came the first team to beat the South Africa in a rugby test match on home soil. To make mat­ters worse, Joe Sch­midt’s charges man­aged this feat with only 14 men on the field for most of the game.

The Ir­ish were down to 13 men at one stage, but the Boks could not take ad­van­tage of the sit­u­a­tion.

The Boks, who tra­di­tion­ally pride them­selves on their dom­i­nance in the set pieces, failed to es­tab­lish their author­ity in this as­pect of the game, where Ire­land matched them with phys­i­cal­ity and in­ten­sity.

CJ Stander, the Ire­land loose for­ward, was pun­ished with a red card in the 23rd minute for a dan­ger­ous tackle on Spring­bok fly half Pat Lam­bie.

This seemed to be a harsh call by ref­eree Mathieu Ray­nal be­cause it looked like the South Africa-born Stander was only guilty of a late charge that was not in­ten­tional.

It war­ranted a penalty at least, but not a red card. But it was nev­er­the­less re­garded as reck­less.

With ref­er­ees th­ese days be­ing strict on care­less chal­lenges in the air, Ray­nal had no op­tion but to give Stander his march­ing or­ders.

An in­ci­dent like this would nor­mally change the whole com­plex­ion of a game, but in this in­stance it sim­ply didn’t hap­pen.

El­ton Jan­tjies, who came on as Lam­bie’s re­place­ment, was knocked out cold and stretchered off.

The Lions fly half, who had been bat­tling with a mid­dle fin­ger in­jury, made an im­me­di­ate im­pact by coolly slot­ting a penalty and then send­ing his winger Lwazi Mvovo away on an an­gled run for the Boks’ first try.

Jan­tjies was, how­ever, pole-axed by cen­tre Rob­bie Hen­shaw just af­ter he got his pass away to Mvovo.

Ray­nal had set a prece­dent with Standers’ send-off, and there­fore had no op­tion but to yel­low-card Hen­shaw.

The Boks, how­ever, did not make full use of their numer­i­cal ad­van­tage. They launched a few promis­ing at­tacks, but were thwarted by a res­o­lute Ir­ish de­fence.

How­ever, af­ter go­ing into the break at 13 points all, it seemed the red card just gal­vanised the Ir­ish, who came out fir­ing and scored im­me­di­ately af­ter half­time.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the Boks are known for their driv­ing mauls, but it was the Ir­ish who set the tone early in the game. They gave the home side a bit of their own medicine when they use this tac­tic ef­fec­tively, and it re­sulted in their first try. To add insult to in­jury, lock Lood de Jager was sent off with a yel­low card for an in­fringe­ment at the maul pre­ced­ing the try by Jared Payne.

With 12 min­utes to go, Coet­zee rang the changes by bring­ing on a host of re­place­ments. Pi­eter-Steph du Toit, who re­placed De Jager, surged over the try line to put the Boks back into the pic­ture. How­ever, it was a case of too lit­tle too late.

By go­ing down to the Ir­ish with 14 men, the Al­lis­ter Coet­zee era got off to the worst start imag­in­able. This was, how­ever, the first of a three match test se­ries.

The Boks have a chance to re­deem them­selves when they tackle the Ir­ish at El­lis Park in Jo­han­nes­burg next week. The third test will be played at the Nel­son Mandela Bay Sta­dium in Port Elizabeth a week later.

PHOTO: BENOIT TESSIER / REUTERS

Switzer­land’s Stephan Licht­steiner tries to head the ball in front of Al­ba­nia’s Er­mir Len­jani dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship group A match. Switzer­land won the game 1-0

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