By Ciaran Donaghy
Ireland 38 v 3 South Africa
Ireland kicked off their autumn campaign by cruising to victory over South Africa at the Aviva Stadium.
Joe Schmidt’s side scored four tries with three coming in the last 10 minutes and limited the visitors to a solitary penalty.
The Springboks had the worst possible start losing prop Coenie Oosthuizen to injury as he twisted his knee knocking-on in contact. From the resulting scrum, Ireland tight head Tadgh Furlong forced a penalty and Johnny Sexton slotted over the kick.
Sexton doubled Ireland’s lead on 14 minutes with his second penalty as South African lock Lood de Jager was guilty of not rolling away at the ruck following a strong carry from Iain Henderson.
Sexton was gifted another easy three points on 19 minutes when Springbok flanker Siya Kolisi kicked the ball at the ruck in front of his own posts.
Munster winger Andrew Conway got the game’s opening try on 25 minutes.
From a driving maul scrum half Conor Murray put up a high hanging box kick, South African winger Courtnall Skosan misjudged the flight and let the ball bounce allowing Conway to gather and dart over unopposed but Sexton failed to convert.
South Africa wasted their only scoring opportunity of the first half. Winger Dilyn Leyds lead a counter attack, evading Robbie Henshaw’s weak tackle to carry into the 22 before being stopped. The ball was quickly recycled and moved across the width of the pitch but Kolisi, trying to give a scoring pass to Skosan, threw the ball into touch.
Ireland led 14-0 at the interval but should have scored in first half injury time. They turned down a kickable penalty and were eventually turned over close to the Springbok try line.
South Africa started the second half brightly and were rewarded with their only points three minutes after the restart as Cian Healy was punished for a high tackle on opposite number Tendai Mtawarira and out-half Elton Jantjies landed the resulting penalty.
Sexton restored Ireland’s 14 point advantage with his fourth penalty on 55 minutes after Pieter-Steph du Toit illegally slowed the ball down at the ruck.
Ireland produced the move of the match to score their second try on 71 minutes.
From a lineout on halfway the ball was moved quickly infield. Jacob Stockdale ran a great line to come back on the angle and carry deep into the Boks 22. The Ulster winger released Conway who was stopped close to the line, Kieran Marmion hit fellow replacement Rhys Ruddock and the flanker used a strong leg drive to power over from close range with Sexton converting.
Ulster hooker Rob Herring, winning his second cap and playing against the country of his birth, got the home side’s third try three minutes from full time.
Ireland kicked a penalty to touch. Herring hit Devin Toner from the lineout and the forwards set up a driving maul to propel the hooker over with Joey Carbery converting
Stockdale put the icing on the cake, finishing off a sweeping move for Ireland’s fourth try in injury time which Carbery converted.
Ireland: R Kearney, A Conway, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale, J Sexton, C Murray, C Healy, R Best, T Furlong, I Henderson, D Toner, P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, CJ Stander
Replacements: R Herring for Best 66 mins, D Kilcoyne for Healy 66 mins, John Ryan for Furlong 70 mins, James Ryan for Henderson 70 mins, R Ruddock for O’Mahony 50 mins, K Marmion for Murray 70 mins, J Carbery for Sexton 74 mins, D Sweetnam for Kearney 73 mins
South Africa: A Coetzee, D Leyds, J Kriel, D de Allendre, C Skosan, E Jantjies, R Cronje, T Mtawarira, M Marx, C Oosthuizen, E Etzebeth, L de Jager, S Kolisi, PS du Toit, F Louw
Replacements: B Mbonambi for Marx 66 mins, S Kitshoff for Mtawarira 54 mins, W Louw for Oosthuizen 1 min, F Mostert for De Jager 66 mins, U Cassiem for Kolisi 68 mins, R Paige for Cronje 68 mins, H Pollard for Jantjies 56 mins F Venter for Allendre 56 mins
Ref B O'Keeffe (New Zealand)