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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 20 January 2021


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FT: Ireland 38-3 South Africa

Good afternoon and welcome to the first part of what will hopefully be an epic double-header of Irish sport.

We’re just a few short hours from kick-off in Copenhagen, but as appetisers go, we couldn’t ask for much tastier than this: it’s Ireland v South Africa, live from the Aviva Stadium, in the opening test of the Autumn internationals.

Kick-off is at 5.30pm.

Now this is a suggestion that we can definitely get on board with…

COYBIG: Winner gets to host the 2023 world cup?

It is, of course, a huge day for this man. After much hand-wringing over the rights and wrongs of his international call-up and the residency rules which allow for it, Bundee Aki makes his debut for Ireland this afternoon.

Andrew Porter and Bundee Aki Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Bundee Aki in the dressing room ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of Bundee Aki's jersey in the dressing room Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of Bundee Aki's jersey in the dressing room Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

TEAM NEWS: Here’s a reminder of the Ireland team in full. A big day too for Jacob Stockdale who starts on the wing and wins his third cap.


15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Conway
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4.  Iain Henderson
5. Devin Toner
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Sean O’Brien
8. CJ Stander


16. Rob Herring
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. John Ryan
19. James Ryan
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Joey Carbery
23. Darren Sweetnam

TEAM NEWS: Here’s how the visitors will line out. Alistair Coetzee makes three changes to the side which lost by a point against the All Blacks last month - Tendai Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuize come into the front row and Damian de Allende is restored to midfield.

South Africa

15. Andries Coetzee (Lions)
14. Dillyn Leyds (Stormers)
13. Jesse Kriel (Bulls)
12. Damian de Allende (Stormers)
11. Courtnall Skosan (Lions)
10. Elton Jantjies(Lions)
9. Ross Cronje (Lions)

1. Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)
2. Malcolm Marx (Lions)
3. Coenie Oosthuizen (Sharks)
4. Eben Etzebeth Capt. (Stormers)
5. Lood de Jager (Bulls)
6. Siya Kolisi (Stormers)
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers)
8. Francois Louw (Bath)


16. Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers)
17. Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
18. Wilco Louw (Stormers)
19. Franco Mostert (Lions)
20. Uzair Cassiem (Cheetahs)
21. Rudy Paige (Bulls)
22. Handré Pollard (Bulls)
23. Francois Venter (Cheetahs)

We’ve just had the anthems, and Ireland’s Call, and the last of the fireworks. It’s showtime.

KICK OFF: We’re up and running as Elton Jantjies gets us underway.

First things first, the jerseys clash horrifically. Nearly indistinguishable on TV.

2 mins — Substitution: That’s a really unfortunate start for South Africa who lose tighthead Coenie Oosthuizen in what must have been the very first moment of contact. Wilco Louw is on in his place.

3 mins – Magnificent start from the Irish pack who get a huge push on against the head and win the penalty. Sexton’s going to kick for the posts from the South African 10m line…

4 mins — Ireland 3-0 South Africa (Sexton pen)

Nothing wrong with that as Sexton splits the posts. We’ve just seen a replay of the scrum that won the penalty as well – Tadhg Furlong out-beasted ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira.

Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

6 mins – South Africa work their way into Irish territory and all of a sudden, Ireland look a little bit stretched. Damien de Allende has three men outside him but tries to kick through, and only manages to kick it straight into the grateful arms of Andrew Conway who clears. Wasteful.

8 mins – Stander goes through Mtawarira in the tackle but as he turns to place it for Murray, loses control and knocks it on. Another test for the SA scrum coming up.

10 mins – Some big collisions in midfield but the Irish defensive line stand strong at every turn. South Africa try to move it wide and it’s spilled forward through the legs of Francois Louw and into touch. Back for the Irish scrum.

11 mins – Another scrum penalty for Ireland — South Africa weren’t driving straight. Sexton kicks to touch.

13 mins – South Africa engage too early at the scrum and it’s an Irish free kick. That’s their third infringement in four scrums so far.

15 mins — Ireland 6-0 South Africa (Sexton pen)

South Africa don’t roll away at the breakdown. Sexton does the necessary. Ireland in control so far.

17 mins – Really impressive linespeed from the Irish defence who are forcing mistakes from South Africa in possession. Aki is on top of Dillyn Leyds before he knows it, and then Stockdale forces a knock on a few phases later.

20 mins — Ireland 9-0 South Africa (Sexton pen)

Brilliant Irish attack started by Sexton on the loop outside Henshaw, and great work from Conway to carry up to the SA 22 and secure possession. Ireland’s clear out is a bit too effective but South Africa are penalised for kicking the ball out of the ruck, which is now illegal.

21 mins – Andrew Conway continues a good couple of minutes by claiming a high ball and barrelling forward to gain a few yards and put Ireland back on the front foot.

23 mins — CRUNCH! Francois Louw lined up Sean O’Brien there. Good yards from Iain Henderson a few passages earlier.


24 mins — Ireland 14-0 South Africa (Conway try)

Ireland have the game’s opening try and it’s one that’s going to make for pretty painful viewing in the South African review room on Monday morning.

Conor Murray puts up a pretty speculative – but, crucially, contestable box kick – and South Africa make a hames of it. Cronje and Skosan dawdle, Conway nips in between them and pounces, and races into the corner to score.

Sexton’s conversion attempt is from the touchline and it just kisses the post before falling on the wrong side.

27 mins – Break in play as Peter O’Mahony gets treated for a blood injury. It has to be said, at this point, Ireland are full value for their 14-point lead. South Africa, by comparison, looking flustered and more than a little toothless.

30 mins – First hint of indiscipline from Ireland as they concede two penalties in quick succession. South Africa kick to the corner and for the first time this evening, they’ll be in a position to really test Ireland.

32 mins – CJ STANDER! Ireland are shoring up under South African pressure, making a big stop, and Stander wins the breakdown penalty with a perfect jackal. Kolisi had no option but to cling onto the ball for dear life. Massive work.

34 mins – South Africa are back again as Henderson takes his eye off the ball and turns over possession easily. The Boks go wide but Kolisi’s final pass to Skosan is wayward and goes into touch. A bit of a let-off there for Ireland.

39 mins – Ireland somehow turn a negative into a positive with some really nice heads-up rugby. Rob Kearney is caught by the bounce of a ball over the top, but Henshaw is sweeping in behind and launches a counter with a kick that forces Coetzee, the Boks fullback, to really think. By the time he steadies himself, Henshaw is up to make the tackle, O’Mahony follows in, and the South African clearance to touch is hurried.

40+1 mins – Ireland nearly break through for a second try as Sexton launches a high ball which Kearney claims. The platform is there but Sexton is penalised for clearing out a South African defender beyond the ball, and South Africa will have a penalty to finish the half.

Back in five.

SECOND HALF: We’re back underway. More of the same, I think, please.

44 mins — Ireland 14-3 South Africa (Jantjies pen)

Stander is high as he tackles Mtawarira and it’s a clear penalty. Jantjies slots it without any trouble.

46 mins – De Jager doesn’t release Kearney in the tackle; Sexton kicks the penalty to the corner. Let’s see what the Irish lineout maul is like here…

47 mins – Not great, to be honest. O’Mahony takes cleanly but Pieter-Steph du Toit is able to burrow his way into the middle of the maul, disrupt it, and win a turnover scrum.

49 mins – Nice work from Jesse Kriel who takes it at first receiver and puts on the afterburners to try open up Ireland down the side. Bundee Aki never lets him out of his sight though and drags him to touch, with Conor Murray arriving to lend a helping hand.

50 mins — Ireland substitution: Peter O’Mahony has had a fine afternoon despite shipping a few knocks; Rhys Ruddock on in his stead.

52 mins – Advantage to Ireland but Robbie Henshaw knocks the ball on just as the advantage is called over. SA put-in to the scrum. They’ve been far better in the first 12 minutes of this half than they were in the entirety of the first.

54 mins – Instant impact from Rhys Ruddock who pounces on South Africa at the breakdown, stays on his feet, and forces Jesse Kriel to infringe. Great play.

55 mins – Conor Murray keeps asking the referee for a penalty until Ben O’Keeffe eventually rules that yes, South Africa are stopping the ball from coming back on the Irish side.

With advantage being played, Sexton tries a drop goal but scuffs it slightly. He’ll have another go from the penalty though…

56 mins — Ireland 17-3 South Africa (Sexton pen)

No bother.

South African subs: Handre Pollard and Francois Venter on for Elton Jantjies and Damien de Allende. One I missed a minute ago: Kitshoff on for Mtawarira in the front row.

57 mins – Pollard’s first touch is a mistake, much to the delight of the Lansdowne Road crowd, as he carries the ball into touch inadvertently and gives Ireland a cheap lineout.

60 mins – Devin Toner reads play nicely and very nearly snags an interception, but the ball just slips out of his hands and it’s knocked on. Not deliberate though.

62 mins – Magnificent clearing kick from Rob Kearney who brings play from deep inside the Irish 22 back into South African territory.

65 mins – Ireland are absolutely dominating South Africa at the breakdown and again, they win the turnover penalty. It’s Rory Best this time with the jackal and poach with Kitshoff  isolated.

66 mins — Substitution: That’s Best’s last contribution; he and Healy go off to be replaced by Kilcoyne and Herring.

69 mins – Jacob Stockdale has just put Dillyn Leyds on his arse with a textbook tackle. Ireland celebrate it like a try, and to make matters worse for Leyds, he loses control and knocks it on. BAM.

70 mins — Substitutions: John Ryan, James Ryan and Kieran Marmion all on; Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and Conor Murray all off.


71 mins — TRY! Ireland 24-3 South Africa (Ruddock try, Sexton conv)

A beautiful, flowing attack from Ireland carves the South African defence open. Stockdale is the man on the loop in midfield and then flings the ball out to Andrew Conway on the wing, the kind of pass that leads him on to the try line. Marmion is quick on the scene when Conway is tackled, and Ruddock shows some lovely footwork to step out of the first tackle, get low, and burrow his way over the line.

Sexton converts and Ireland are home and hosed.

74 mins — Substitution: Darren Sweetnam comes on to make his Ireland debut; Rob Kearney departs to a huge reception.

75 mins — More substitutions: Carbery on to replace Sexton for the final five minutes; South Africa forced into a change as Kolisi comes back on to replace du Toit, who is off for a HIA it seems.

76 mins – Ireland’s new front row leaves its mark at the scrum and wins a penalty. Carbery kicks to the corner, and this really could be the icing on the cake.


76 mins — TRY! Ireland 31-3 South Africa (Herring try, Carbery conv)

And they do it in style! Toner claims the lineout, Herring controls from the back… and scores. Ireland have definitely been 28 points better than South Africa today. It has been such a dominant performance.


80+1 mins — TRY! Ireland 38-3 South Africa (Stockdale try, Carbery conv)

And that’s the icing on the icing on the cake. You can never have enough icing, can you?

As Johnny Sexton is named man of the match, his replacement, Joey Carbery, gets the backline motoring. It ends with a flowing move across the backline and Jacob Stockdale dives over for a try he richly deserves for an outstanding perfomance.

Carbery converts, and that’s that.

Well, we could hardly have asked for a better start to the sporting evening – a record win for Ireland against South Africa.

Now it’s off to Copenhagen where we’re getting very close to kick off in the World Cup play-off between Denmark and Ireland. Follow all of the action live with my colleague Paul Fennessy here.

Thanks for reading and commenting. Enjoy!

About the author:

Niall Kelly


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