Boks edge past Ireland to clinch Test series

Date published: June 25 2016

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Two second half penalties from the Springboks saw them beat Ireland 19-13 to clinch the three-match Test series in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The Boks' clinical set pieces throughout the opening 40 allowed them to advance deep into Ireland's half and with only 33 percent possession, it was a pretty remarkable feat to head into the break with a slender 13-10 lead. 

Despite both sides scoring one try each, it was the boot of fly-half Elton Jantjies as well as Lions teammate Ruan Combrinck which saw the home side over the winning line in the end.

Those two scores in the first half came through JP Pietersen for South Africa, while Luke Marshall got over the whitewash for Ireland.

The home side were reduced to 14 men after Sharks full-back Willie le Roux saw yellow for a dangerous aerial challenge on his opposite number Tieran O’Halloran, the visitors added their converted try during this time.

The resilient attack and patient defending from the visitors was however not enough to contain the home side's discipline on defence, and it was Allister Coetzee's troops' overall physical prowess at the set pieces that saw them outsmart their opponents in the end.

Early pressure from both sides on attack and defence saw them cop a penalty apiece in the opening minutes. 

The home side's penalty, which Tendai Mtawarira won when he overpowered Mike Ross at the scrum, was within the range of fly-half Elton Jantjies and the Lions number ten made no mistake, making the score 3-0 after just six minutes.

Ireland hit back hard and showed real patience with both ball in hand and on defence, allowing to build on the Boks' mistakes and it was this resilience that allowed Marshall to break an attempted tackle from Jantjies to crash over by the posts, with Paddy Jackson adding the extras and giving the visitors a slender 7-3 lead.

The power and execution of their scrum and lineout was a display of pure strength and skill from the home side as they dominated those areas throughout the opening half. 

Frans Malherbe, in similar fashion to Tendai Mtawarira, outmuscled his opposite number in Jake McGrath winning another scrum penalty for the hosts which allowed Jantjies to reduce Ireland's lead to 6-10 after an earlier penalty from Jackson.

Soon after some brilliant vision led to a Jantjies cross kick which veteran wing JP Pietersen gathered and dotted down on the stroke of half-time, Jantjies' conversion from a difficult angle handing the home side a three-point lead.

The home side's second half performance was a clinical and disciplined display of making use of their 32 percent possesion and 27 percent territory despite Ireland making all the runs.

Earlier in the week Coetzee mentioned that Combrinck's inclusion in the starting XV gave his side a right-fooedt kicker and not only an alternative to Jantjies' left boot but also a long range one at that, given it was Combrinck who kicked a 50 metre penalty conversion before Jantjies' third penalty to give the home side a 19-10 lead as we headed into the final quarter. 

Jackson added a penalty ten minutes from time that reduced the home side's lead to just six points, 19-13, as Ireland rolled out their bench in an attempt to find some extra energy.

But it was a brilliant defensive effort from the home side on their own try line just minutes from the final whistle which clinched both the game and series.

Outstanding throughout, scrum-half Faf de Klerk made a try-saving interception near his own line and then also sealed the win with a last-gasp tackle to deny Ireland at the end.

Man of the Match: Lots of players stood out for the home side, but in the end it has to the experience of veteran utility back JP Pietersen. His brilliant gather of Jantjies' cross kick on the stroke of half-time was the highlight of the match.

Moment of the Match: The defensive effort from the Boks right at the end testified of their brave discipline effort throughout and capped off a well deserved win and claiming the three-match Test series, 2-1.

Villain of the Match: Nothing nasty to report.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Try: Pietersen
Con: Jantjies
Pens: Jantjies 3, Combrinck
Yellow Card: le Roux

For Ireland:
Try: Marshall
Con: Jackson
Pens: Jackson 2

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Lwazi Mvovo

Ireland: 15 Tieran O’Halloran, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Finley Bealham, 18 Tadgh Furlong, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Matt Healy

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

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