IRE­LAND BAT­TER BOKS

Sunday Tribune - - SPORT &RACING - MIKE GREENAWAY

South Africa (0) 3

Ire­land (14) 38

HE Spring­boks were dis­may­ingly ex­posed by a ruth­lessly ef­fi­cient Ire­land team in Dublin last night and re­main win­less in the north­ern hemi­sphere since they beat Ar­gentina in the bronze medal play­off at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

And the way they played last night, if the Boks are go­ing to get as far as the play-offs in the 2019 World Cup in Ja­pan, there is go­ing to have to be ma­jor calls made by the South African Rugby Union as soon as hu­manely pos­si­ble.

In the week that South Africa is likely to be con­firmed as hosts of the 2023 World Cup, the Bok bosses are go­ing to have to shift fo­cus to the alarm­ing state of their ail­ing prod­uct and the in­ep­ti­tude of the coach­ing staff. It is go­ing to be em­bar­rass­ing to say the least for the Saru rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Lon­don on Wed­nes­day

Per­haps the sad­dest as­pect of the South African demise was that it was all so pre­dictable. The strengths of the home team that were hyped all week were vividly dis­played from start to fin­ish – su­pe­rior game man­age­ment by their play­mak­ers and set piece dom­i­nance meant there was al­ways go­ing to be one vic­tor.

The heavy un­der­foot north­ern hemi­sphere con­di­tions in­deed suited the pol­ished kick­ing game of their ex­pe­ri­enced half­back pair­ing of Conor Mur­ray and Johnny Sex­ton, while ask­ing ques­tions of Ross Cronje and El­ton Jan­tjies.

It had been said by all and sundry that Mur­ray and Sex­ton would put the Boks un­der pres­sure with their gen­er­al­ship, and it came to pass.

So, too, did the en­vis­aged set scrum as­cen­dancy of the home side.

In the first half an hour in par­tic­u­lar, the Boks had no plat­form to work from. They were un­der pres­sure in the

Tscrums and the shrewd Ir­ish tac­tic of keep­ing the ball in play meant pre­cious few li­ne­outs, thus largely re­mov­ing a Bok strong point from the equa­tion.

And when the Boks did get rare at­tack­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, there was ei­ther poor de­ci­sion-mak­ing or ex­e­cu­tion. Cen­tre Damian de Al­lende, for in­stance will rue his op­tion of put­ting the ball to boot early in the game when he had a three­man over­lap.

Siya Kolisi was an­other to stop a promis­ing at­tack in its track when a pass meant for Court­nall Skosaan went past the un­marked wing and into touch.

To be fair, the Boks had the most un­for­tu­nate of starts when just a minute into the game tight­head Coe­nie Oosthuizen fell awk­wardly af­ter a heavy hit from Ir­ish cen­tre Bundee Aki and was carted off. It was the 28-year-old’s come­back match af­ter hav­ing bro­ken his arm in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship match against the Wal­la­bies in Perth in early Septem­ber.

It meant Wilco Louw was in ac­tion de­cid­edly sooner than planned by the coach­ing staff, and while Louw pos­si­bly should have been se­lected in the first place given Oosthuizen had taken no con­tact since that arm in­jury, it di­min­ished the Boks’ planned im­pact off the bench in the sec­ond half.

Louw more than held his own in the set scrums but the Boks were twice pe­nalised for scrum in­fringe­ments in the first 10 min­utes, with Ir­ish tight­head Tadhg Fur­long get­ting the edge over Bok vet­eran Tendai Mtawarira.

Ire­land’s con­trol of the game meant penal­ties were rou­tinely con­ceded by the South Africans and by the end of the first quar­ter, Sex­ton had nailed nine points.

And the score ad­vanced to 14-0 when the Boks could not deal with a pre­ci­sion box kick and the loose ball spurted out to right wing An­drew Con­way, who sped home for a try.

The first half at least ended on a for­tu­nate note for the South Africans af­ter Ire­land failed to con­vert a penalty ad­van­tage in the Bok 22 into points. They had the penalty but stout Bok de­fence kept the vis­i­tors from scor­ing a try and de­prived Sex­ton of a fourth penalty goal.

And it got a touch bet­ter for the Boks when they scored the first points of the sec­ond half via a Jan­tjies penalty fol­low­ing a high tackle on Mtawarira.

But that was just about it for the Boks. The sec­ond half fight back could not ma­te­ri­alise be­cause of the ever es­ca­lat­ing er­ror and penalty count.

The Beast had been in­dus­tri­ous with his ball car­ries but it was not a sur­prise when he was the first of the start­ing line-up to be subbed, with Steven Kit­shoff in­tro­duced in the 55th minute.

Kit­shoff was on the field just long enough to see a Sex­ton penalty sail be­tween the up­rights.

At 17-3, Coet­zee’s hand was forced and Han­dre Pol­lard came on at fly­half for Jan­tjies, and De Al­lende was pulled off for Fran­cois Ven­ter.

It re­ally did not mat­ter. It was a lost cause and the score­line grew de­press­ingly bad for the vis­i­tors when Ir­ish re­place­ment Rhys Rud­dock bus­tled over af­ter a break down the touch­line by Con­way.

And it be­came a com­plete dis­as­ter when CJ Stander scored against the coun­try of his birth, with the con­ver­sion put­ting the score into the 30s.

The rout was com­pleted in the 80th minute when wing Ja­cob Stock­dale scored his team’s fourth try.

Penalty: El­ton Jan­tjies Tries:an­drew Con­way, Rhys Rud­dock, CJ Stander. Penal­ties: Johnny Sex­ton (3). Con­ver­sions: Sex­ton, Joey Car­berry (2).

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

BAT­TER­ING RAM: Ire­land loose-for­ward Sean O’brien, cen­tre, barges his way past Spring­boks Siya Kolisi, left and Jesse Kriel dur­ing yes­ter­day’s Test in Dublin.

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