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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 16 July, 2020


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RIGHT. IT’S TIME for a whole new season.

A fresh start, clean slate; nothing but optimism from here on in and whatever you do, don’t mention 60-0.

It’s Ireland versus the Springboks at Lansdowne Road’s Aviva Stadium and we’re bringing you every big hit live.

As always, we’d love you to get in contact, so send us your thoughts by emailing, via Twitter@thescore_iefind us on Facebook, or leave a comment below.

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Ireland 12 – 16 South Africa

Birr! You’re very welcome to our international-tastic liveblog of Ireland’s season-opener against the Springboks.

We’re perched high over the Stadium formerly known as Lansdowne Road as both sides go through the last of their paces with the atmosphere slowly hotting up.

It’s prediction time.

Less than 15 minutes to go now, as you can see in the link below, South Africa were dealt a late blow as ‘The Beast’ woke up with heart palpitations. The shuffle means promotion for CJ van der Linde.

Ireland, thankfully, have not suffered any late woes so the teams look like this.

Ireland: Simon Zebo; Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble; Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross; Donncha Ryan, Mike McCarthy; Peter O’Mahony, Chris Henry, Jamie Heaslip (c).

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Michael Bent, Donnacha O’Callaghan, Iain Henderson, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O’Gara, Fergus McFadden.

South Africa: Zane Kirchner, JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute, Jean de Villiers (c), Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, CJ van der Linde.

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Heinke van der Merwe, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Morné Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Lwazi Mvovo.


That’s the sound of Ireland following the ‘Boks from the tunnel and onto the field. Though, now that I think of it, it might have been the 10-12 fireworks that went off at around the same time.

All lined up in friendly fashion, then. Here comes Michael D.

Richardt Strauss has been boning up on his Irish sing-song ability. A quick double round of Ireland’s Call and we’re ready for action…. cue more fireworks and more Drop-kick Murphys.

Alright, some rugby now, please.

KICK OFF: The All Bla..  I mean Ireland, get kick off towards the little dingey end of the stadium as soon as Wayne Barnes has decreed that the smoke from the fireworks is all celar.

Early high ball for SImon Zebo, he survives and Sexton returns one with interest.

Tommy Bowe wins the jump, but the play is halted by an Irish knock-on.

Both sides show some early ambition, spinning wide between a spot of kick-tennis.

Ireland’s roving attack ends with a mis-placed Keith Earls kick going right into the arms of Pietersen.

Richardt Strauss is off for a blood sub and a penalty on half-way is driven deep into the Bok 22.

PENALTY: Ireland 3 – 0 South Africa (Sexton ’5)

Francois Louw drags the line-out down receiver down and Sexton’s accuracy from the 22 metre line is A Oh Kay!

Superb work from Peter O’Mahony at the breakdown.

Henry took the restart and as the visitors attacked the Irish 10 metre, they were met by a big hit from Mike McCarthy and the Munster flanker gets over the ball and forces the other Strauss to hold on.

Cronin’s subsequent line-out, though, is wayward. Ireland cough up possession.

PENALTY: Ireland 6  - 0 South Africa (Sexton ’10)

A cheap penalty from the ‘Bok perspective. Offisde just inside their own half and Sexton sends it cruising over from 45 metres plus a slight angle.

Thank goodness for that, Richardt Strauss is patched up and back on the field.

South Africa attack off a decent line-out, but Ireland’s defence is brimming with intent, they blitz up into the midfield and force the error.

Murray wheels away with a dummy run off the scrum, but after Heaslip feeds Bowe, his pass to Earls puts him into a big hit and he knocks on.

South Africa take the advantage and spin wide to the left. Ireland are pinged for not rolling away. Lambie shoves the ball up the line to the 22.

15 mins: Ireland survived that line-out anc cleared, but Strauss’ throw is stolen and the ‘Boks come roaring back through PIetersen through the middle.

PENALTY: Ireland 6 – 3 South Africa (Lambie ’17)

With Jonathan Sexton receoving treatment in front of him, Lambie lands his first chance  from 22 metres.

Sexton was mowed down by Pietersen before McCarthy conceded the penalty as he strayed offside.

PENALTY: Ireland 9 – 3 South Africa (Sexton ’20)

Sit down, ROG: Sexton’s grand.

We’re coping well at the breakdown and McCarthy immediately makes up for his error. Forcing the penalty out of Jean de Villiers.

Cian Healy is running round with his shirt off after an off-the-ball scuffle. It’s quite a sight.

Chris Henry isolated thanks to Eben Etzebeth and Lambie lines up a kick from  half way, but it trails wide and the crowd roars their approval.

It seems that was enough for Ireland to force a clean break on the right through T Bowe. Good game.

The excitement from the crowd has flown onto the field as Ireland take that penalty quick in their own half and spin left where Zebo adds the neccessary gas to bring us upfield.

Ryan and Healy make big carries before a second of indecision from Sexton takes the momentum. He considered a drop-goal, switched back, but got wrapped up.

No matter. Boks are in from the side and from 22 metres…

PENALTY: Ireland 12 – 3 South Africa (Sexton ’30)


Pietersen shoulder-charges Henry as he waits for the ball to drop and all hell breaks loose.

SIN-BIN: See you in the second half, JP.

Ireland’s line-out is having a pretty shocking day, but the scrum is functioning well. Another penalty allows Sexton kick us up to within 40 of the try-line.

Maul time. Altogether, now: HEAAAVEE!

37 mins: South Africa clear their lines after Ireland kicked possession away and Les Kiss is wheeling his arm, hurrying his pack over to take the line-out.

The maul is on again, but after Sexton feeds, Earls, his skip pass to the wing is to flat, too far ahead of Bowe

Earls’ skip pass may have been made with the knowledge that we had a penalty waiting. From the left touchline, Sexton misses his first of the day.

HALF TIME: Ireland 12 – 3 South Africa

A very good half for the men in black ends with a 60-metre shot to nothing from Ruan Pienaar that drops two metres short and one metre wide.

Ireland must be disappointed as they were unable to capitalise with the ‘Boks down to 14, but so far it has been a performance to warm the cockles of your heart.

More please!

With big patches of green yet to be filled the big me in green shirts are back on the field… hmm. Where are Ireland?

We appear to be making the visitors wait in the cold. Not very hospitable, but I like it.

Oh, there’s our other national anthem – the sound of bagpipes and guitars and the soundtrack to The Departed.

We’re off and running with the PA asking for respect for the kickers.

Big hit from McCarthy on Etzebeth, but we come back for a ‘Bok penalty. Lambie shuns the posts for a chance to maul.

It’s what they do best and they show why. The offside penalty comes before they are held up short of the line.

That’s a yellow for the skipper.

SIN-BIN; Jamie Heaslip

KIlcoyne is on to make his debut in place of the injured Healy.

TRY: Ireland 12 – 10 South Africa (Pienaar ’44)

Ireland incur further penalisation on their line, but can only hold out for so long as the Ulster scrum half snipes through a gap underneath the post.

That hurt.

Healy’s back on, though.

Oh, is that another big turnaround?

Sexton’s cross-field kick is marked by Hougard and he clears down-field. Trimble reaches out to save the territory, but knocks it out of touch. The ‘Boks can maul again and they do.

Ireland survive, but as Heaslip warms up on the side-line, the Bol’s come again and Wayne Barnes pings O’Mahony for holding onto Hougard.

It’s all gone quiet over here.

PENALTY: Ireland  12 – 13 South Africa (Lambie’52)

Back to 15, Ireland kick it up a notch off the back of a successful line-out  - we lost three in the first half – Sexton gets the ball way to Earls and this time Bowe does reach the centre’s pass at the second time of asking.

Ah, no!

Bowe is penalised on the 22 for holding on and Pienaar can boot the ball long up field. We’re defending our own 22 again.

Here comes Fergus McFadden.

Andrew Trimble makes way with Ireland on halfway after winning a turnover on their own five metre line.

As Earls carries, the ‘Boks are called back for offside again.

Sexton will attempt one from a tight angle near halfway… and it drops underneath the post into Jean de Villiers hands.

Eoin Reddan on the field now with Murray making way. Will that be the extra speed from the base that Ireland need?

Reddan is marshalling his pack really well and he give Mike Ross a big carry which turns to a maul, but as it’s dragged down the ball is forward and we lose possession.

Here comes Donncha O’Callaghan as Ryan is escorted off the field by the team physio.

Du PLessis wins  his scrum a penalty and we’re back defending in our own half.

Etzebeth is dragged down in the line-out and Lambie, with the horrible Mexican Wave doing the rounds, drops his kick just short.

Thankfully the Mexican Wave died down, but as its replaced by Fields of Athenry, Mike Ross loses a duel he’s well used to. Replacement Heinke van der Merwe giving Lambie the chance to…

PENALTY: Ireland 12 – 16 South Africa ‘ (Lambie ’69)

Debuts now for Michael Bent and Iain Henderson. O’Callaghan on permanently too.

Ross, O’Mahony and McCarthy are off.

Michael Bent’s first act in an all black Ireland kit is to scrummage his way to a penalty on halfway. Sexton kicks us to the 22. The line-out is a little sloppy, but we’re rolling. Stand-by for (not literal) fireworks!

A big hit from Coetzee draws an ‘OOOH’ from the crowd and sucks the momentum from Ireland. Two carries later, Ryan is whistled for holding on. We’ll have to wait for this win.

Ronan O’Gara and Sean Cronin are in; Strauss and D’Arcy make way.

Yes, the Springboks are duly sucking the life out of this game, picking and driving around Ireland’s 10. But Wayne Barnes gives us a life-line; a scrum after a knock on.

Last chance saloon.

A penalty pushes Ireland further up field, the clock goes red and dead after it’s thrown in, but the black shirts attack with pace through Zebo and McFadden.

When it all break down, we kick it on in hope and Pietersen is only to happy to run into touch.

FULL TIME: Ireland 12 – 16 South Africa

A pretty disappointing, pointless second half for Ireland then.

We’re off down to this ground’s deepest darkest corner to pick the bones out of this one. Keep the URL dial locked on for all the fall-out and reaction.

Stay warm, kids.

About the author:

Sean Farrell