Category: Archive

Ireland’s ruggers extend world champions South Africa

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

South Africa 27, Ireland 13

It was billed both as a grudge match and as ritual slaughter, but in the end it turned out as neither as Ireland emerged with a good deal of credit following their defeat by rugby’s world champions at Lansdowne Road last Saturday.

The Irish produced a performance full of fire and aggression epitomized by the display of Keith Wood, however, it couldn’t stop the South Africans from equaling the record of 17 consecutive international victories. They can now set a new mark by beating England in London on Saturday.

Following last summer’s punch-up during Ireland’s tour of South Africa, there had been talk of settling a few scores. Without every boiling over, the match certainly had an edge to it and remarkably, the Irish were on top for the entire first half.

Frustratingly, they still trailed by 7-6 at the changeover as Eric Elwood missed a couple of penalties and Andy Ward failed to hold a try-scoring pass. The feeling that Ireland would eventually pay for those lost chances quickly became a reality when the South Africans piled on 17 points in just five minutes at the start of the second half.

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Tries by the wonderfully athletic Bobby Skinstad and Joost van der Westhuizen turned the match on its head and suddenly, the Irish were trailing by 24-6. Not even a barnstorming Wood try could change things and South Africa held on to their lead without ever hitting top form.

While praising his team’s performance, Ireland’s manager, Donal Lenihan, was disappointed with yet another defeat.

“At halftime we felt it was the best opportunity ever to beat South Africa,” he said. “We are going to have to start winning these games fairly soon.”

As for a relieved South African coach Nick Mallett, he paid tribute to the Irish.

“Thank God you guys aren’t in our World Cup group,” he said. “We took our chances and Ireland didn’t. That was the difference.”

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