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
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.
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