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'It's a very special win... But we'll see in the next few weeks exactly how special it is'

Ireland secured a historic victory over South Africa yesterday.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Rory Keane reports from Newlands Stadium

NOT AGAIN, SURELY?

After a courageous 80-minute display and leading by six points, Ireland, exhausted after toiling for an hour at Newlands with 14 men, summoned the energy to withstand one final Springboks attack.

The Boks, who had stuttered in attack for most of the contest, went for broke in the final play of a gripping Test at Newlands. Willie le Roux released JP Pietersen down the left and the veteran Sharks winger looked odds on to crash over in the corner.

Suddenly, it felt like November 2013 all over again with that horrific final passage of play against the All Blacks flooding back into memory. Ryan Crotty’s last-ditch try denied Ireland a famous and fully-deserved victory at the Aviva Stadium that day. Surely, this couldn’t happen again, could it? Ireland had other ideas, however, as Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw and Paddy Jackson bundled the flying Bok into touch. Game over.

For Rory Best, who made several important defensive contributions during a valiant second-half effort, that traumatic defeat in Dublin only made this current squad stronger.

“I don’t think we flashed back to there, I think we’ve come a long way since then,” said the Ireland captain.

There were similarities to it, but for us it was about the way we stood up. It’s not easy to come here and win, there’s a reason no Irish team has ever done it and to do it for just short of 60 minutes with 14 men, it took a lot of character.

“For me, as captain of this 32-man squad, it wasn’t just the XV that took the field or the guys that made an impact, I think you tell a lot about the individuals that you have at your disposal by what they do when they’re faced with a bit of adversity.

“There was no real panic whenever we went down, we knew it was going to be incredibly tough but what a way to make history, by having to do something special.

We sort of knew we had to keep going at them and at them, because if you sit back against the Springboks and try to soak them, it’s just not going to work; they’re too big, too physical,too good a rugby team.

“So we knew we had to keep going at them and it’s a credit to a man, the guys who came in off the bench, they really did that.”

Best was just one of a host of star performers on a day when Ireland secured their first-ever victory in South Africa.

The fact that they achieved that feat with only 14 men on the field for the best part of an hour makes this victory all the more incredible.

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There were standout moments throughout this thrilling contest which ebbed and flowed all the way to the final whistle. Whether it was a big hit from Iain Henderson, an intelligent defensive read from Luke Marshall or a well-timed clearance kick from Paddy Jackson, Joe Schmidt’s side delivered a performance that will live long in the memory.

There’s still the small matter of Tests in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth in the coming weeks. No doubt about it, Ireland will need to prepare for a Boklash at King’s Park next Saturday.

It’s a very special win, to come here and win but we’ll see in the next few weeks exactly how special it is in terms of creating history,” added Best.

“Whether it’s a one-off or whether we can go on and clinch a series, to win any game when you’re faced with going down to 14 men is special and to do it here, with everything… look, it’s a special game, a special performance.”

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