DUBLIN — South Africa came from behind to beat Ireland 16-12 in a clash of two injury-hit sides at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday to get a month when the seedings for the 2015 World Cup will be decided off to a solid start.
Report by Reuters
The Springboks, defending their top-four world ranking in the first of three November tests and without a string of first team regulars, trailed 12-3 at the break when Jonathan Sexton kicked the hosts into a commanding lead.
Ireland failed to profit from the visitors losing JP Pietersen to a yellow card before the break, but South Africa made no mistake after Jamie Heaslip was sent to the sin bin and a Ruan Pienaar try together with the boot of Pat Lambie saw them home.
The inexperienced hosts, missing first-team regulars Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris, Sean O’Brien and Rory Best, were in total control early on and inched ahead thanks to two Sexton penalties in the opening ten minutes.
South Africa, whose own injury crisis continued into the morning of the game when they lost prop Tendai Mtawarira to a recurrence of mild heart palpitations, cut the lead in half minutes later when Lambie slotted over an easy three points.
They were made to pay for giving away their fifth penalty inside the first 20 minutes when Sexton restored the six-point advantage and after Lambie failed with his second shot at goal, Sexton made it four successful kicks from four on the half hour. The game then swung on the two yellow cards, the first dished out to Pietersen for a shoulder charge on Irish flanker Chris Henry that almost kicked off a 30-man brawl, but ultimately saw the Irish fail to take advantage.