Simon Zebo 6 - Made ground and spearheaded a lot of ball in the Irish backline thrusts. Was outshone by Kirchner in the air as the game progressed. Sloppy spill forward as he went on a late charge up-field.
Tommy Bowe 7 - Lost early up-and-under but was at the centre of a lot of Ireland’s best work. Came into the centre a lot and linked up well with Sexton and Zebo
Keith Earls 5 – Knocked on a Sexton pass on the charge. Fine break up the right wing but was held up in the tackle and conceded a pen on 26. He erred again on 37 minutes when he missed Bowe in acres of space on the right wing before Sexton’s missed penalty.
Gordon D’Arcy 6 – Won a scrum when he held up Jaco Taute in the midfield. Nice first-half mopping up to keep the backline moving after some thunderous hits on Zebo.
Andrew Trimble 5 – Conceded a poor penalty on Pienaar when Ireland had the man advantage in the first-half. Huge clanger on 47 minutes when he fumbled a Hougaard clearance into touch. Replaced for McFadden soon after.
Jonathan Sexton 6 – Early penalty kick was never in doubt – settled the nerves. Got a second on 10 minutes as he ignored Eben Etzebeth’s antics. Linked up well with Zebo and was under instructions to pump the Boks with up-and-under tests.
Conor Murray 6 – Great sniping run in first half injury time but did not have the support so the break came to nothing. Strong in the tackle and, like Sexton, sent a lot of balls into the night sky.
Ireland line-up for the pre-match anthems. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
Cian Healy 6 – Great early tackle on Francois Louw. Won his team a penalty with a strong scrum on 29 minutes. Was running on fumes midway through the second-half.
Richardt Strauss 5 – Bloodied himself as Ireland won third minute penalty. Had his first throw swatted away, setting up a JP Pietersen break. Another sloppy throw after the Pietersen/Henry ruckus. Throwing improved as the game wore on but he was bested by cousin Adriaan.
Mike Ross 5 – Penalised for not releasing late in the first half. Carried numerous times for two and three yard gains as Ireland tried to fight back in the second half but gave up an attacking scrum to the Boks when he was held up on 62 minutes. Conceded the 16-12 penalty when van der Merwe got the better of him.
Donnacha Ryan 6 – Penalised for not releasing the charging Adriaan Strauss on 13 – set up South Africa with a dangerous lineout on the Ireland 22. Could not get enough of his arm under the ball as Pienaar dived over for his try. Penalised for holding on in the tackle at a crucial, late stage.
Mike McCarthy 7 – Conceded 17th minute penalty as Ireland scrambled after losing a lineout on halfway. Had up for it with great carry two mins later that led to Sexton penalty. Won the home man-of-the-match.
Peter O’Mahony 5 – Fumbled an early Cronin lineout. Industrious at the breakdown. Harshly penalised the moment he lost his feet while scrambling for a ball in Hougaard’s grasp.
Chris Henry 6 – Smashed off the ball for JP Pietersen but will not mind as it won his side the man advantage. Battled manfully throughout.
Jamie Heaslip 6 – Tackled in the lineout to earn his side an early pen. Played as an extra scrum-half for the first 30 minutes. Sent to the sin bin soon after the break as Ireland back-pedalled from a shunting Springbok maul.
Fergus McFadden 5 – Replaced Trimble and stumbled in attack on his first foray up the left.
Eoin Reddan 5 – Replaced Murray with 19 minutes left. Could not make an impact as his team was going sideways.
Michael Bent 6 – Replaced Ross for his debut. Got the better of van der Merwe in his first scrum to win a penalty on halfway.
Donncha O’Callaghan 5 – On for McCarthy with 10 on the clock. Too late to influence proceedings.
Iain Henderson 5 – Replaced O’Mahony in the closing stages. Looked lively in the couple of scrums and rucks he took part in.
O’Gara and Cronin – on too late to be rated. O’Gara gifted possession with a poor chip at the death. Dave Kilcoyne was a four minute injury-sub for Healy.