The Springboks turned things around to claim a 19-13 third Test win, and 2-1 series triumph after another hard-fought Test against Ireland that was filled with plenty of drama. Each side scored a try apiece, as the Boks held on in the dying minutes thanks in part to dynamic scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
However it was De Klerk who gave the ball back to Ireland with less than three minutes left in the match, and the visitors almost made him pay had it not been for his crucial spot tackle on full time.
Earlier Willie Le Roux may have been lucky to escape with just a yellow carded after he collided with fullback Tiernan O’Halloran in the air, from which Ireland took full advantage to score a Luke Marshall try while South Africa were down to 14 men.
Le Roux was cited and has since been suspended for one week.
On the stroke of halftime the Springboks scored from a perfectly placed Elton Jantjies crosskick, with experienced JP Pietersen going over in the corner after a nicely taken outstretched catch.
The home side had just 30% of possession but managed to sort out their defensive issues of the previous two Tests and lifted themselves to hang on against a quality Irish side who won a Test in South Africa for the first time in their opening game (26-20), then went down 32-26 the following week.
Just six points seperated the two teams in each one of the three Tests.
“We started the series with a loss and we were 19-3 down in Johannesburg. And here today we were really put to the test, so I am very pleased in the result and series win,” Bok coach Allister Coetzee said.
“The performance of senior players was great. What was also pleasing was the way the new players adapted to test match rugby. There are many instinctive players in the team, but they learned valuable lessons from the step-up to test rugby.
“This is all part of the building process for this team and the foundation looks solid.”