Monday, November 08, 2010
South Africa hung on against a resurgent Ireland to end a string of defeats in Dublin as they secured a hard fought 23-21 win at the new Aviva Stadium. Wet conditions and a poor crowd turnout made Irelands return to Lansdowne Road anything but memorable.
Missing a whole host of players through injury and one in particular through unavailability, the Springboks were expected to struggle against the home side. It was anything but the case as for large parts the visitors dominated up front, and the Irish errors were uncharacteristically frequent.
Juan Smith scored the first try with a superb break that saw him sprint away from the defence with surprising ease. Morne Steyn chugged away, missing one kick only breaking his run of getting 40-odd in succession and at 23-9 up it looks as though things were in control.
Substitutions changed the games flow for South Africa, while for Ireland the halfback pairing of Ronan OGara and Peter Stringer came on and ignited a comeback that had the disappointing crowd on their feet for the first time in the game.
Ultimately, South Africa hung on for a well deserved win, breaking the Dublin hoodoo with a solid forwards display as they ground out the win in the wet.
"The conditions dictated the way we had to play. It wasn't a day made for the new law interpretations. It was the kind of day to keep the ball close," said Victor Matfield.
OGara, who showed his class when coming on for his 100th test cap, has expressed his dismay at the turnout for the game, where a crowd of only 35 517 turned up.
"At the old Lansdowne Road there was an unbelievable atmosphere, so passionate and driven. We have to get those days back. Theyve been so good to this team and we need them back. We need them more than ever. We miss them," he said.
Tough times and a bizarre ticketing policy have meant that most fans have given these games a miss. "We really need the supporters its because of them that Ireland have been so good for so long," OGara added.