ALL THINGS IRELAND: November 2012
IRELAND BEAT NEW ZEALAND FOR THE 1ST TIME 40-29 IN HISTORIC WIN IN CHICAGO...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

GAA: GALWAY'S PADRAIC JOYCE RETIRES FROM COUNTY FOOTBALL

Joycey, A Galway Legend
An era in Galway football has come to an end with Pádraic Joyce deciding to retire after a 15-year career in which he won almost every major honour in the game.

The decision by the 35-year old brings a glorious period for Galway football to an end.

It started in 1998 when Joyce and a host of other young players burst on the scene to end over three decades of frustration for Galway and Connacht football when they stormed to All-Ireland glory.

But the last remaining member of that team has now decided to leave the stage after 15 years of top flight football.

Most of Joyce’s inter-county success came in the early years but he continued to soldier on in the fast few seasons despite a series of heartbreaking narrow defeats and Galway's propensity to frequently keep changing their manager.

Joyce also seems likely to retire from club football after winning four county titles with Killererin, but he has not made a final decision on this.

A combination of increased work commitments – he has his wife Tracey run a busy recruitment company PJ Personnel Ltd – and elevated demands of training are the primary factors in him reaching his decision.

“Of course I can't go on playing for ever and I gave it some thought as other lads called a halt in recent years, but decided to persevere. But now the time is right to get out.

“I have been very fortunate to have played with some great teams at club, schools, college, inter-county and international. I have also been blessed to have had some great managers and some great playing colleagues so I can have no complaints. The county board also has always offered great support.”

Joyce first emerged on the scene as part of the St Jarlath's College Hogan Cup winning team of 1994, which also provided the Meehan brothers Declan and Tomas, Michael Donnellan, John Divilly and his own brother Tommie for the Galway team which ended a 32-year barren wait for All-Ireland glory when they defeated Kildare in the 1998 All-Ireland final.

That was Joyce's debut season for Galway and was also John O'Mahony's first year in charge. Joyce had some managers — starting with the likes the late Fr Ollie Hughes and Joe Long at St Jarlath's and Val Andrews in IT Tralee — in his career but O'Mahony will always hold a special place.

“He was so well organised. This was before mobile phones and email, but he would give us a sheet with the entire month planned and nobody deviated from that.

“He had a great way with players and I am extremely grateful to him for giving me the chance. He achieved an awful lot for Galway football and it is only as time goes on that you really appreciate what he did,” said Joyce.

That first year was geared entirely towards dethroning Mayo in the first round — it was knockout back then with no second chance — and once that was achieved, Galway went on to defeat Leitrim and Roscommon in a replay to win the Connacht title.

They then accounted for Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final and defeated Mick O'Dwyer's Kildare in the final.

It was some debut season for Joyce — six championship matches, five wins and a draw, a Connacht medal and an All-Ireland. There were some on the coach back to Galway, the likes of Kevin Walsh, Tomas Mannion and Sean Og de Paor, who had chalked up close on 40 championship matches at that stage.

But disappointment soon followed for Galway. Mayo gained revenge in 1999 in Tuam and then one of Joyce's most disappointing days when he captained Galway in the 2000 All-Ireland against Kerry, but had to watch his good friend and former IT Tralee colleague Seamus Moynihan collect Sam.

A year later there was glory again for Joyce when they became the first team to win the All-Ireland through the back door against Meath, and Joyce picked up his third All-Star and the Texaco footballer of the year.

Since then four Connacht titles have been the extent of the reward. The county has not won a game outside Connacht since their qualifier win over Louth in 2003.

“That's hard to believe because we have had good teams in those years, but sometimes it just doesn’t go for you. Changing the manager so often probably hasn’t helped but we still should have won a lot more.”

Success with Killererin kept Joyce motivated, while the regular changing of the Galway manager also set challenges which he reveled in, but now he feels it is time to step aside.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

IRELAND 46-24 ARGENTINA WITH TRIES VIDEO

Sexton touches down
Ireland guaranteed a place among the second seeds for the 2015 World Cup draw after cruising to an impressive 46-24 victory over Argentina at Aviva Stadium.


The hosts ran in a total of seven tries, with Jonathan Sextonand Tommy Bowe each grabbing a brace and Craig Gilroy, Richardt Strauss and Simon Zebo also crossing.

Coach Declan Kidney came into the contest under pressure after a run of five Test defeats but a dominant display against a Pumas side which beat Wales two weeks ago will be a big help to the under-fire boss.

Ireland took the lead in the 11th minute as Test debutant Gilroy, who was a threat all afternoon, came racing off his wing to take an inside pass from Sexton before beating three defenders to score.




Five minutes later centre Gordon D'Arcy fed Sexton and the Leinster fly-half showed good strength as he broke two tackles to crash over the line.

Argentina remained in touch through two Nicolas Sanchez penalties but the home side took a firm grip on the contest when Strauss grounded in the corner following a line-out drive.

The fourth try came when Bowe caught a high kick to start a move which ended when Sexton threw a miss pass out to full-back Zebo, who dived over in the left corner.

Sanchez kicked two more penalties and Sexton sent one of his own through the posts to make the score 27-12, but Bowe ended any hopes of a comeback when he collected a Sexton kick to score.

Sexton added his second try soon after and Bowe completed his own double in the last 10 minutes as he pounced on another chip kick, this time from Keith Earls.

Ireland emptied the subs bench, giving every squad player some game-time in the closing stages, which gave the Pumas a slight advantage.

Tries from Tomas Leonardi and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe in the dying minutes salvaged some pride for Argentina, who had prop Maximiliano Bustos sin-binned for throwing the ball into the face of Cian Healy.

Ireland:

Tries: Gilroy, Sexton (2), Strauss, Zebo, Bowe(2)
Cons: Sexton 3, O'Gara 1
Pens: Sexton 1


Argentina:

Tries: Lobbe, Leonardi
Cons: Sanchez (1)
Pens: Sanchez (4)


IRELAND V ARGENTINA TEAMS






   IRELAND V ARGENTINA

Ireland have it all to do to beat Argentina at the Aviva Stadium at 2pm today.

The Pumas joined the ranks of the Tri-Nations of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia to form the inaugural Rugby Championship earlier this Season.

Despite being guided by Graham Henry, they failed to win a game in their first season down-under.

However, match-day games will give them an advantage over Ireland for this encounter.

The added incentive of World Cup points will make sure that this will be a keenly contested encounter.

The result will decide the outcome of the seedings for the next Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, it may also decide Declan Kidney's future as Ireland coach.


                                 Ireland

                               Simon Zebo

  Tommy Bowe,  Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy, Craig Gilroy

                 Jonathan Sexton,  Conor Murray

       Cian Healy,  Richardt Strauss,  Mike Ross
        Mike McCarthy,  Donnacha Ryan,
  Peter O'Mahony,  Chris Henry  Jamie Heaslip

Replacements:  S Cronin, D Kilcoyne, M Bent, D O'Callaghan, I Henderson, E Reddan, R O'Gara, F McFadden.

                        

                   Argentina

                        J M Hernandez

    G Camacho, M Bosch, S Fernandez, J Imhoff

                      N Sanchez, M Landajo

                   M Ayerza, E Guinazu, M Bustos,
                         M Carizza, J F Cabello,
  J M Fernandez Lobbe, J M Leguizamon, L Senatore

Replacements: A Creevy, N Lobo, F Gomez Kodela, T Vallejos Cinalli, T Leonardi, N Vergallo, G Tiesi, M Montero



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IRISH RUGBY TEAM: RATINGS ANALYSIS

Craig Gilroy, hat-trick on debut
By Brendan Cole

The bare facts show that Ireland must beat Argentina on Saturday to stay in the top eight with both Scotland and Samoa in position to overtake them if they cannot do so.

In fact, Ireland would drop as low as 11th if they lost and Italy managed to beat Australia in Rome. On the other hand, if Ireland can win, they will probably climb up to sixth place in the rankings.

To recap briefly, Ireland’s points total (79.04) was unaffected by the thrashing of Fiji in a non-cap international on Saturday, but Ireland actually climbed one place to seventh because of Wales’ loss to Samoa. But while Ireland climbed a place, the overall picture actually changed for the worse.

First, Samoa's victory meant they climbed up to ninth place overall, where they are poised to overtake Ireland if Ireland slip up. Meanwhile, Scotland managed to stay within 15 points of South Africa, while Tonga beat the USA on Saturday evening.

 That combination of results means that if Scotland beat Tonga by 15 points or more and Ireland lose to Argentina, Scotland will also overtake Ireland. Wales: also in the fight to stay 'up' Wales are also in a fight to stay in the top eight, but their position is actually less relevant to Ireland as even if they lose twice over the next two weeks, Wales will almost certainly not drop low enough for Ireland to stay ahead of them in the event of a loss to Argentina.

But Wales can be caught by Samoa and know they must secure a positive result against either New Zealand or Australia to stay 'up'. An Irish defeat to Argentina would also be enough for Wales to stay in the top eight, as Scotland cannot catch Wales.

Does it all matter? The answer to that question at both micro and macro level is undoubtedly ‘yes’.

Firstly, as everyone knows, the draw for RWC 2015 happens next month. It has been pointed out that Ireland could end up with a similar draw regardless of whether they are in the second or third pot. But that has actually changed significantly over the last fortnight.

Now, staying into the second pot will mean Ireland cannot be drawn with host nation England, Argentina or Samoa. Instead, they would get a top seed and either Wales, Scotland, Italy or Tonga. Vastly different.

It is also worth mentioning the unfavourable playing schedule Ireland would get by falling into the third rank of seeds. It definitely matters. Broadening the picture further, it is worth considering how the IRB ranking affects Ireland’s standing in the rugby world.

Dropping to 11th in the world would represent a serious setback to the progress that has been made on that front since 1999, decisively separating Ireland from the bracket of nations immediately behind the SANZAR trio.

Ireland are at a low ebb and there is no doubt that the slew of injuries just before this series came at just the wrong time; the presence of Brian O’Driscoll or Paul O’Connell alone would probably have been enough to secure a win against South Africa.

Beating Argentina in Saturday’s Test is important in its own right. Surviving the current slump and staying in touch with the top nations is equally crucial.

IRB World Rankings (19 November)

1. New Zealand 92.91
2. South Africa 86.05
3. Australia 85.94
4. France 84.99
5. England 81.96
6. Argentina 79.89
7. Ireland 78.95
8. Wales 78.95
9. Samoa 78.79
10. Scotland 77.42
11. Italy 76.61
12. Tonga 74.5


Monday, November 19, 2012

IRELAND PUT 53 PAST FIGI AT THOMOND PARK

craig Gilroy scores three tries on debut
 A crowd of over 20,000 at Thomond Park on a drizzly and cold  was a good turnout. For their investment in the occasion they were rewarded with a game Ireland had sewn up by the end of the first quarter, when they were 17-0 in front. It was 29-0 by half-time, and when referee Leighton Hodges wrapped it up the try count stood at eight.
In truth, it was barely above the status of a training run, a comfort zone for the fresh faces to get their international careers started. Just as Jonny Sexton made his debut in similar circumstances three years ago, Paddy Jackson had the enjoyable experience of getting a stream of ball going forward from a pack who were miles ahead of their opponents. The only danger to him was the chance of being clobbered late, which increased as the tourists fell further out the back end of the game.



Unfortunately for the Fijians, understrength and under-resourced, they have to stop off in Tbilisi on the way home so the Georgians can have a go off them. It may well be snowing there by then. Just what the south sea islanders are after.

For Ireland, meantime, this exercise had no relevance to their clash with the Pumas in Lansdowne Road on Saturday. Unfortunately for Eric Elwood and Connacht however it may have a whole lot of relevance for them given that John Muldoon was stretchered off, early in the second half, after an accidental collision with Conor Murray.

Otherwise, Declan Kidney didn't seem to have any other notable casualties on his list. The coach gave starts to Ulster quartet Jackson, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy, with Paul Marshall joining them off the bench for the last quarter. Strangely he passed on the opportunity to give Simon Zebo another start at fullback. He had done well there last weekend and surely another spin would have been useful ahead of the Argentina game.

Instead the slot went to Denis Hurley, making his second international appearance three years after his first. That sequence would suggest Hurley is not exactly centre stage, whereas Zebo could well be there, or pretty close to it. He got the last 20 minutes, by which stage Ireland were 36-0 ahead.

At that point the Fijians were ratty and disjointed and looking to leave a mark on someone if not the game itself. Replacement Saula Radidi tried harder than most to do damage to anything in green. Toulouse flyer Timoci Matanavou was binned for a tip tackle on Conor Murray, and he was followed in the final quarter by the replacement hooker Tuapati Talemaitoga for a late tackle on man of the match Craig Gilroy. Luckily it didn't take a lot out of the Ulster wing.

He had already scored one try by that stage, added a second a few minutes after a late hit, thanks to a nicely delayed pass by Zebo, and then ran all of 95 metres to get hat-trick, dodging white shirts along the way.

It was Gilroy who had started the rout on 10 minutes when a good combination between Jackson, Luke Marshall and himself ended with a try by the corner flag. With Jackson having tapped over a penalty on six minutes, you felt that a 10-point lead was a huge issue for the Fijians.

They had nothing to offer and seemed to appreciate the fact better than anyone, so we weren't given one of those performances where the underdog keeps yapping away, oblivious. More like a lie down with the odd snap when they became grumpy. Only once over the 80 did they look like they might get across the Ireland line. In fairness to the home they defended the series of attacks close-in, mid way through the second half, as if there was more at stake.

The sight of the impressive Iain Henderson ripping the ball clear was the final nail for the away side, who would have left reasonably happy if they had got over the line just once.

Instead they had to suffer some more, with Gilroy's two strikes, and then Marshall rounded off the night by getting over in the corner, to make it five tries from the Ulster backline contingent alone. Given their profile these days, that was about right.

 For their investment in the occasion they were rewarded with a game Ireland had sewn up by the end of the first quarter, when they were 17-0 in front. It was 29-0 by half-time, and when referee Leighton Hodges wrapped it up the try count stood at eight.
 
In truth, it was barely above the status of a training run, a comfort zone for the fresh faces to get their international careers started.
 Just as Jonny Sexton made his debut in similar circumstances three years ago, Paddy Jackson had the enjoyable experience of getting a stream of ball going forward from a pack who were miles ahead of their opponents. The only danger to him was the chance of being clobbered late, which increased as the tourists fell further out the back end of the game.



Unfortunately for the Fijians, understrength and under-resourced, they have to stop off in Tbilisi on the way home so the Georgians can have a go off them. It may well be snowing there by then. Just what the south sea islanders are after.

For Ireland, meantime, this exercise had no relevance to their clash with the Pumas in Lansdowne Road on Saturday. Unfortunately for Eric Elwood and Connacht however it may have a whole lot of relevance for them given that John Muldoon was stretchered off, early in the second half, after an accidental collision with Conor Murray.

Otherwise, Declan Kidney didn't seem to have any other notable casualties on his list. The coach gave starts to Ulster quartet Jackson, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy, with Paul Marshall joining them off the bench for the last quarter. Strangely he passed on the opportunity to give Simon Zebo another start at fullback. He had done well there last weekend and surely another spin would have been useful ahead of the Argentina game.

Instead the slot went to Denis Hurley, making his second international appearance three years after his first. That sequence would suggest Hurley is not exactly centre stage, whereas Zebo could well be there, or pretty close to it. He got the last 20 minutes, by which stage Ireland were 36-0 ahead.

At that point the Fijians were ratty and disjointed and looking to leave a mark on someone if not the game itself. Replacement Saula Radidi tried harder than most to do damage to anything in green. Toulouse flyer Timoci Matanavou was binned for a tip tackle on Conor Murray, and he was followed in the final quarter by the replacement hooker Tuapati Talemaitoga for a late tackle on man of the match Craig Gilroy. Luckily it didn't take a lot out of the Ulster wing.

He had already scored one try by that stage, added a second a few minutes after a late hit, thanks to a nicely delayed pass by Zebo, and then ran all of 95 metres to get his hat-trick, dodging white shirts along the way.

It was Gilroy who had started the rout on 10 minutes when a good combination between Jackson, Luke Marshall and himself ended with a try by the corner flag. With Jackson having tapped over a penalty on six minutes, you felt that a 10-point lead was a huge issue for the Fijians.

They had nothing to offer and seemed to appreciate the fact better than anyone, so we weren't given one of those performances where the underdog keeps yapping away, oblivious. More like a lie down with the odd snap when they became grumpy. Only once over the 80 did they look like they might get across the Ireland line. In fairness to the home they defended the series of attacks close-in, mid way through the second half, as if there was more at stake.

The sight of the impressive Iain Henderson ripping the ball clear was the final nail for the away side, who would have left reasonably happy if they had got over the line just once.

Instead they had to suffer some more, with Gilroy's two strikes, and then Marshall rounded off the night by getting over in the corner, to make it five tries from the Ulster backline contingent alone. Given their profile these days, that was about right.

Ireland: D Hurley; F McFadden, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, C Murray; D Kilcoyne (C Healy 47), S Cronin (R Strauss 53), M Ross (M Bent 53); D O'Callaghan, D Tuohy; I Henderson, J Heaslip (capt)(M McCarthy 76), J Muldoon (C Henry 44; yc 64-74).

Fiji: M Talebula; S Koniferedi (S Radidi 37), V Goneva, R Fatiaki (T Manatavou h-t; yc 47-57)), W Votu; J Ralulu, N Matawalu (K Bola 68); J Yanuyanutawa (S Semoca 70), V Veikoso (T Talemaitoga 45; yc 67-77)), D Manu (capt); L Nakarawu (A Ratuniyarawa 45), A Naikatini; I Ratuva, N Nagusa (J Domolailai 61), M Ravulo.

Referee: L Hodges (Wales)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

IRELAND LOSE TO GREECE 1-0



Ireland v Greece at oddsJose Holebas ensured the Republic of Ireland ended 2012 without the victory they craved as Giovanni Trapattoni's youngsters were undone 1-0 by Greece at Aviva Stadium.


The Italian's experimental side, which featured Ciaran Clark, James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady from the start and Wes Hoolahan after the break, competed well for long periods, but were unable to carve out the openings to take something from the game.
In front of a sparse crowd at the Aviva Stadium, where they were battered 6-1 by Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month, Ireland showed plenty of endeavour and at times craft, but they could not find the killer touch in front of goal.
As a result, Holebas' sweet 29th-minute strike was enough to win the game for the visitors and leave Trapattoni's detractors with enough ammunition to maintain their opposition to his continued presence at the helm heading into March's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.

The 73-year-old, finally bowing to mounting pressure, handed youth a chance as his side brought an end to their 2012 campaign and tried to do so in style against the national currently ranked 12th by FIFA.
Ireland slipped significantly in FIFA's ranking table - to 36th place, 24 behind the Greeks - in the wake of their humiliation at the hands of the Germans, and the Italian's response was to include Aston Villa defender Clark, Wigan schemer McCarthy and wingers Brady and McClean in his starting line-up.
He was also forced to make a late change when goalkeeper Keiren Westwood withdrew with a groin injury and Millwall's David Forde was handed an unexpected fourth senior cap.
It all started relatively promisingly for the home side with McCarthy finding space in the middle of the field to feed Brady and McClean on the flanks, and the movement of strikers Shane Long and Simon Cox troubling the Greek defence.
Ireland had strong claims for a first-minute penalty waved away by Israeli referee Eitan Shmuelevitz and defender Konstantinos Stafylidis could consider himself extremely fortunate not to be penalised for his less-than-effective attempt to deal with Stephen Ward's deep cross.
Cox went to ground inside the box under Sokratis Papastathopoulos' challenge three minutes later, but the appeals on that occasion were more muted and also ignored, and McClean scuffed a long-range effort wide.
But the Republic looked certain to take the lead with 10 minutes gone when full-back Seamus Coleman, whose combination with Brady proved a repeated threat down the right during the opening 45 minutes, collected the winger's return pass and crossed.
Cox had found a yard of space and climbed to meet the ball unopposed, but he was unable to hit the target with just keeper Orestis Karnezis to beat.
Greece had offered little in response, but gradually worked their way into the game and called Forde into action for the first time when Sotiros Ninis took aim from 25 yards and forced a diving 23rd-minute save.

However, the Republic failed to heed the warning and fell behind six minutes later when skipper Georgios Samaras, who had earlier had to leave the pitch for treatment to a head wound, turned Konstantinos Mitroglou's pass into the path of Holebas, who span John O'Shea and thumped the ball into the bottom corner.
Long and Clark were both booked for clumsy challenges as the game unfolded in anything but friendly fashion, but the home side had rather lost their way.
They might have levelled in injury time when Brady tested Karnezis with a left-foot strike after being set up by Long, but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.
There was warm applause from the sparse crowd when, on their return, Ireland were joined by in-form Norwich star Hoolahan, winning just his second cap, a fact which had not gone unnoticed by Trapattoni's critics.
Brady departed along with Long to accommodate his arrival and that of Kevin Doyle, who was asked to play a lone striking role ahead of Hoolahan with Cox dropping in on the left and McClean moving to the right.
Ironically Glenn Whelan, the man who had pleaded with his manager earlier in the week to field an extra midfielder, was back in the dressing room having limped off injured before the break.
However, it was McCarthy who almost dragged the Republic back into the game two minutes into the second half when Karnezis failed to hold his long-range shot, although Papastathopoulos prevented Doyle from converting the rebound and Cox's follow-up was blocked.
But while perspiration was not in short supply, inspiration was and the Irish failed to make the most of the possession they were allowed as the game passed the hour-mark with Greece's narrow lead intact.
Ward hacked a 69th-minute shot harmlessly across the face of goal after the Greeks had failed to clear a McClean free-kick, and Greece coasted to the final whistle and victory with few alarms.
(c)RTE


Saturday, November 10, 2012

IRELAND 12-16 SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa overcame Ireland for just the second time in 12 years at Lansdowne Road in a game that saw a complete turnaround after the break. Ireland led 12-3 at half-time but Jamie Heaslip’s spell in the bin after the restart ultimately cost the hosts.
It took just four minutes for Richardt Strauss to leave his mark on the international rugby landscape. Or, rather, it left its mark on the new Irish hooker who had to go off for treatment on a burst lip. If there is still some debate about granny rules and naturalisation, no-one will be unhappy about the recruitment of players such as Strauss if they offer quality options.
There was a time when the end-of-year international series were, quite simply, a nightmare.
Between 1993 and 2001 Ireland lost six tests (to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, all twice) by an average margin of almost 20 points. The nearest Ireland got to any of them was 10 points, against Australia in 1996 and against South Africa at the turn of the century.
Horror defeats against the All Blacks (expected) and Italy (not so much) in 1997 eventually did for the Brian Aston regime. Warren Gatland was in charge and almost masterminded a win over New Zealand in 2001 before one of the best generations of Irish rugby players enjoyed a breakthrough 18-9 win over Australia in 2002. In the period that followed, there were three wins against South Africa -- in 2004, 2006 and 2009 – so this game held happy enough recent memories.
But Declan Kidney has found himself under increasing pressure since 2009. The statistics aren’t kind to him since the Grand Slam season: Eight wins in 15 Six Nations games; only three in nine against the ‘Big Three’ home nations.
It’s a rarity now in modern international rugby that teams can put out full-strength sides, such is the usual injury toll. Kidney’s character indicates a less experimental side would have been chosen if certain players had been available but circumstances meant the home fans were able to assess potential future options. There were some worries about the lack of ball-carriers going into Saturday’s game in the absences of Stephen Ferris and Sean O’Brien, in particular, but early robust surges from Strauss and Mike McCarthy offered renewed hope.
Conor Murray went into the game under pressure but some early snappy passes and a couple of tidy box-kicks took him into the groove. Ireland were reading the Springboks attack with almost psychic precision and if McCarthy was landing opponents on their backsides, Chris Henry at openside was hungry for work at the breakdown.
Although Ireland were offering more in an attacking sense, there were mistakes in possession on both sides. The home side struggled to make any clean breaks and when Henry found himself isolated (how many times have we been frustrated with that aspect of our game in recent years?), South Africa threw away the chance to make it 9-6 approaching the half-hour.
As if to reinforce the point above, when Keith Earls did make ground down the right with a sprightly run, the support was again slow to show. Simon Zebo, at full-back and starting authoritatively under the high ball, if a little off radar with the boot, involved himself twice in a move that led to a penalty under the posts.
It was scrappy stuff, though, and it wasn’t a great surprise when the mercury rose a degree or two after Sexton’s successful kick. JP Pietersen, who made that eyebrow-raising claim about David Skrela during the week, made himself even less popular with the home support when he charged into Henry under a high ball, a misdemeanour that put him in the bin but could easily have been red. There were no handbags damaged in the exchanges that followed but the numerical advantage meant Ireland were able to keep their opponents pinned in their own half.
The first serious maul of the game saw Strauss scamper forward towards the South Africa 22 but possession was wasted out wide. Play was called back only for Sexton to make his first mistake of the evening, pulling his shot wide.
South Africa are coming off the back of a tough recent series in the southern hemisphere and, at times, they didn’t look all that interested. Jaco Taute and Jean de Villiers tower over Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls but the Ireland midfield duo were under no physical pressure in the opening period when logic says they should have been primary targets for the away side.
There was an immediate improvement after the break, though, and Jamie Heaslip was rightly sent to the bin as South Africa pummelled the Irish line following a destructive maul. The Springboks ran the resulting penalty and Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar stretched to touch down under the posts and the conversion reduced the margin to two.
Before Heaslip returned, the away side made it 10 points in 10 minutes to go a point up. Ireland finally made inroads in the direction of their opponents’ 22 only for another error to send the South Africans mauling down the other end. Taute and de Villiers were finally making yards and Ireland defended desperately to turn a ball over on their own line.
Murray, who had a decent game, was replaced with Eoin Reddan on the hour, just after Sexton failed with a long-range penalty. Reddan has had his case made for him by those who say he gets his backline moving quicker, and he needed to prove that as Ireland rarely threatened to out-flank the visitors.
South Africa were dominating territory now and Stauss and Mike Ross showed the physical toll of the war up front when they were slow to rise following the concession of another penalty at scrum time. Patrick Lambie put South Africa four points up before Kidney sent for the substitutes, Iain Henderson and Michael Bent among them.
The latter made an immediate impact, helping his new side win a penalty at the next set-piece between the packs.
From the resulting phases Ireland probed but there was little creativity and the ball was again easily turned over by a now physically dominant opponent. Ireland had a couple of remaining chances to run but South Africa comfortably held out to complete a comeback that looked very unlikely at the break.
Over all, there were positives. McCarthy and Strauss were excellent at times and Bent shored up the scrum late on. But there is also plenty to worry about and it will be the Pumas relishing the test that will round off the series following their impressive win in Cardiff.