Match Report – South Africa 27 – 20 Ireland


Highlights of South Africa's action-packed win over Ireland in their opening Test in Pretoria

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Highlights of South Africa’s action-packed win over Ireland in their opening Test in Pretoria

Highlights of South Africa’s action-packed win over Ireland in their opening Test in Pretoria

Two crucial TMO decisions fell South Africa’s way as they defeated Ireland 27-20 at Loftus Versfeld in the first of their two-Test series, live on Sky Sports.

Welsh TMO Ben Whitehouse ruled out a James Lowe try for Ireland due to a subjective breakdown call, and then fed back there was ‘inconclusive evidence’ to rule out a Cheslin Kolbe South Africa try, which ensured a two-score lead.

Lowe’s try would have levelled the contest at 13-13, and handed fly-half Jack Crowley a conversion for the lead, while Kolbe’s effort moments later came as a result of Lowe keeping a Handre Pollard penalty kick to touch in-field – though replays suggested he was in touch while playing the ball.

South Africa – Tries: Arendse (3), Kolbe (65), Penalty Try (78). Cons: Pollard (4, 67). Pens: Pollard (18, 29).

Ireland – Tries: Osborne (35), Murray (75), Baird (79). Cons: Crowley (76). Pens: Crowley (13).

A third TMO call then also went against Ireland as No 8 Caelan Doris was denied a try due to lack of evidence on replays.

Conor Murray raced in for a second Ireland try with five minutes to go, but a late South Africa penalty try via a ferocious scrum drive confirmed victory, with Ryan Baird striking a third for Ireland but with time all but up.

Less than three minutes in, South Africa struck the opening try as skipper Siya Kolisi set fleet-footed wing Kurt-Lee Arendse away quickly, who then scorched into space and past debutant Jamie Osborne to touch down.

Kurt-Lee Arendse opened the scoring for the Springboks against Ireland

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Kurt-Lee Arendse opened the scoring for the Springboks against Ireland

Kurt-Lee Arendse opened the scoring for the Springboks against Ireland

South Africa No 8 Kwagga Smith knocked on the restart into touch, handing Ireland a lineout attack in the 22. When awarded a penalty, the visitors turned down the chance to kick for points in favour of a five-metre tap attack, but it proved the wrong call and a big chance missed when lock Joe McCarthy knocked on a poor Peter O’Mahony pass by the try-line.

On 13 minutes, a strong Robbie Henshaw carry forced South Africa to infringe at the breakdown. This time, Crowley struck over from 40 metres to get Ireland onto the board.

Fly-half Jack Crowley kicked Ireland's first points of the contest with a penalty

Fly-half Jack Crowley kicked Ireland’s first points of the contest with a penalty

Five metres later, Pollard restored South Africa’s seven-point lead with a penalty of his own after McCarthy was trapped in a ruck.

A big Crowley mistake followed, kicking out on the full after the ball was passed back into the Irish 22 and handing South Africa a lineout. In the ensuing attack, Porter was harshly penalised at the breakdown, and Pollard increased the SA lead to 10 points.

Handre Pollard kicked 10 points off the tee for South Africa, but missed three move efforts

Handre Pollard kicked 10 points off the tee for South Africa, but missed three move efforts

Past the half-hour, South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi was penalised for coming in at the side of a ruck, but Crowley shockingly missed the resulting penalty wide.

Five minutes before the end of the half, Ireland struck for a try, however with stunning Dan Sheehan and Lowe offloads working the ball inside to Osborne and seeing the full-back dive for the line – Lowe’s effort to remain in play particularly impressive.

Ireland's Osborne scored after an incredible offload from James Lowe

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Ireland’s Osborne scored after an incredible offload from James Lowe

Ireland’s Osborne scored after an incredible offload from James Lowe

Crowley hooked the tough conversion wide, but Pollard soon missed too after South Africa were awarded a penalty to increase their lead.

Six minutes into the second half, Pollard produced a second poor miss off the tee, but replacement hooker Malcolm Marx won a breakdown penalty to stop Ireland’s next attack.

Just shy of the hour mark, Ireland then seemingly scored a try to level the game through Lowe up the touchline, only for TMO Whitehouse to come in and advise a review.

While hooker Ronan Kelleher had hooked the ball back with his foot legally, TMO Whitehouse argued he was already off his feet when he did so as opposed to doing so while falling. Referee Luke Pearce agreed and chalked off the score.

A superb try from Lowe was controversially ruled out by the TMO

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A superb try from Lowe was controversially ruled out by the TMO

A superb try from Lowe was controversially ruled out by the TMO

With 16 minutes to go came Kolbe’s controversial effort, with Lowe seeming to have a foot in touch while playing the ball back in-field. TMO Whitehouse said there was not enough evidence, though, and the try stood.

Cheslin Kolbe punished Lowe's mistake to finish off South Africa's second try

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Cheslin Kolbe punished Lowe’s mistake to finish off South Africa’s second try

Cheslin Kolbe punished Lowe’s mistake to finish off South Africa’s second try

Pollard nailed the conversion for 20-8, with Ireland then roaring back and attacking hard. Repeat penalties saw Arendse sin-binned, but Ireland were denied a try when Doris dived for the line.

Murray scored before long after a lovely move, but another Lowe error – spilling the restart dead – handed South Africa a five-metre scrum, which sprinted forward to decide the game.

Ireland did land one more punch through Baird, as he collected Lowe’s offload, but with seconds remaining they couldn’t force another attack.

What they said…

Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony told Sky Sports…

“We knew it was going to be very difficult here with the quality South Africa have got. There are a lot of positives to take out of our performance but, little bits here and there, playing against a side as good as this, they’re going to punish you.

“Were we surprised by South Africa’s width in attack? We knew with Tony Brown coming in that there was going to be a bit of a tweak.

“Certainly they’re playing a bit more expansively but they have footballers who are more than capable of doing it. They put us under pressure with their depth out the back of the line. We’ll have a look.”

Former Ireland wing Shane Horgan on Sky Sports’ coverage…

“When Ireland got in their shape and pattern, they looked really good. Conor Murray’s try was a perfect example of that. They had loads of options, lots of animation.

“Even for the Ryan Baird try, the set-up and systematic pattern allowed that opportunity to happen.

“The big takeaway for Ireland is if they can get into their pattern and impose it against South Africa, then you’ve a chance to break them down.”

What’s next?

Ireland now head to Durban for the second and final Test of the series against South Africa on Saturday July 13. That match is live on Sky Sports Action from 3.30pm (4pm kick-off). Watch New Zealand vs England (8.05am kick-off) and Australia vs Wales (10.45am kick-off) earlier on the same day, both live on Sky Sports Action.

Watch England, Wales and Ireland’s summer rugby union internationals exclusively live on Sky Sports. Stream rugby’s summer internationals in 2024 and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership. No contract, cancel anytime.


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