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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the first fixture of the Emerging Ireland squad’s three-game tour in South Africa, with Simon Easterby’s young team taking on the Griquas in Bloemfontein.

We’ll bring you all the action as it happens at Toyota Stadium, where kick-off today is at 12.45pm Irish time.

This tour has split opinion, but it’s certainly a strong opportunity for those involved to make a good impression with the Ireland coaches. Senior head coach Andy Farrell isn’t involved on the tour, with Simon Easterby instead taking the reins. 

Here’s a reminder of team named to start against the Griquas today, with Leinster’s Max Deegan captaining the side.

And here’s how the Griquas will line up. The Griquas were runners-up in this year’s Currie Cup but field a new-look team for today’s clash, naming seven debutants in their matchday 23.  

A reminder that today’s game isn’t being televised, but is being livestreamed on Irishrugby.ie. You can find the link to watch the game here.

Just five minutes to kick-off in Bloemfontein. This is usually where we ask for your score predictions in the comment section, but given the make-up of these two sides, it’s hard to know what to expect. 

Conditions look perfect at Toyota Stadium so hopefully this young Emerging Ireland side can get their attacking game going, as there’s lots of exciting talent in their backline.

5mins – Griquas 0 Emerging Ireland 0

The Griquas enjoying lots of possession in the early stages. They go searching for an opening score but Ireland win the turnover in their own 22 and Nathan Doak is able to clear the danger.

9mins – Griquas 0 Emerging Ireland 0

Tom Ahern – who did really well to win that early turnover – concedes a penalty and the Griquas are able to kick towards the corner. They win the resulting lineout and go through the phases before knocking the ball on.

Ireland then get back up the pitch with a brilliant kick from Doak that brings his team all the way into the Griquas’ 22. The tourists have only seen 11% of the possession in the opening 9 minutes of play.

13mins – Griquas 0 Emerging Ireland 0 

Better from Ireland. They move the ball well through the hands and Jack Crowley plays a lovely skip pass to Shane Daly, but Daly will be really disappointed to have missed Robert Baloucoune with his pass out wide.

14mins – Griquas 0 Emerging Ireland 7

Ireland get their first sniff of the tryline and they make it count, Scott Penny powering over from close range.

There’s a quick TMO check but the try is awarded. The score is converted by Crowley and Emerging Ireland take the lead at Toyota Stadium.

20mins: Griquas 0 Emerging Ireland 7

Some early struggles around the scrum for Ireland. This time Tom Clarkson is pinged and Griquas win the penalty.

Some quick passes out wide allows the Griquas move deep into the Ireland half before turning over the ball, but they quickly win it back as Werner Gouws does really well to claim possession back from Crowley.

They kick to the corner, but the resulting lineout isn’t straight and we go to another scrum. This time, Kudzwai Dube concedes the penalty, Ireland kick for touch, and the referee blows for a water break. 

20mins: Griquas 0 Emerging Ireland 14

Another try for Ireland after a period of Griquas pressure. Ulster flyer Baloucoune darts over in the corner after some really nice work by Leinster centre Jamie Osborne.

Crowley adds his second conversion and Emerging Ireland lead 14-0. 

30mins: Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 14

Ireland go down to 14 men as Ulster flanker David McCann is shown a yellow card for coming in at the side. 

With a man advantage, Griquas move through a series of pick and goes on the Emerging Ireland tryline and Niel Otto eventually finds a way through. The score is converted and the Griquas are finally up and running.

TRY – Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 21 (Penny)

Another try for Scott Penny, and it comes from some really solid set-piece work from Emerging Ireland, a well-executed lineout followed by a powerful maul which allows Penny burst through for his second try of the game.

Crowley converts and the Emerging Ireland pack will be really happy with their work for that score.

TRY – Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 28 

A really strong end to the first half as Ireland get their fourth try, and it’s down to more good work from the Emerging Ireland pack as Munster’s Josh Wycherley shows good strength to crash over from close range. Crowley converts are the tourists are beginning to look really comfortable here.

HALF-TIME: Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 28 

The second-half has just kicked off at Toyota Stadium.

Apologies, but it looks like there’s an issue with the livestream from Bloemfontein. Hopefully we’ll be back up and running shortly, but meanwhile we’ll do our best to keep you updated with the score.

53mins: Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 35 

We seem to be back up and running for now, the stream kicking back into life just at the end of what sounded like a fine team move by Emerging Ireland. 

It was a nice finish by Stewart Moore in the corner after a lovely offload by Baloucoune. Crowley continued his excellent form off the tee by adding his fifth conversion of the afternoon.  

Hopefully we won’t have any more interruptions with our live coverage.

61mins: Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 42 

Ireland are in again as Crowley kicks through and Daly collects to dot down. Crowley then steps up to kick his sixth conversion. He’s looked really sharp today. Ireland are flying now.

Flag

63mins: Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 42

Daly is very nearly in again as he chases down another kick through, but this time Griquas’ wing Luther Obi wins the footrace. 

66mins:  Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 47

This is getting really ugly for the Griquas, who have been very poor today. Joe McCarthy carries hard near the Griquas line and is stopped short, but Emerging Ireland captain Max Deegan is on hand to power over. Crowley is off target with the conversion.

80mins: Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 54 (Nash)

Try number eight for Emerging Ireland, and they made it look so simple. Joe McCarthy made a strong carry before Ireland started to work the ball out wide, slicing through gaps in the Griquas defence with ease. Nash eventually strolls over in the corner unchallenged, the score is converted and that should be that in Bloemfontein.

Griquas 7 Emerging Ireland 54

Game over at the Toyota Stadium, and it turned out to be a very comfortable afternoon for the tourists.

After a slow enough start, Emerging Ireland settled into the game and quickly took control, running in eight tries against a very limited looking Griquas side.

Thanks for joining our live coverage today, we’ll have reaction from Bloemfontein on site shortly.

Gavin Cooney
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