South Africa v Ireland: first rugby union Test – live

Key events

74 min: Ireland are son close. Five out with a penalty advantage. So many big carries. So many big tackles. Can they get over the line?

72 min: Ireland win the line-out and set an attack down the line. South Africa’s rush defence disrupts their flow but Ireland have a free-kick as the Boks had one too many bodies in the line-out. Sloppy.

71 min: Another penalty for Ireland. Another nudge into touch from Crowley. Ireland with another line-out, this time about five metres out.

70 min: Du Toit gets up at the line-out and taps the ball back onto South Africa’s side. That was a big moment for Ireland. Pollard slices his clearing kick out of touch. So Ireland get another line-out inside the Boks’ 22.

69 min: Ireland are starting to get a little frantic. They’ll have a penalty after Aki is put under pressure illegally at the ruck – side entries there. It’s tense, players on both sides get involved in a bit of shoving and pulling after the whistle. It calms down and Crowley lands a wonderful touch finder about 10 out.

68 min: Ireland botch a line-out and South Africa get their hands on the ball and shunt it up field.

Conversion! South Africa 20-8 Ireland (Pollard, 66)

After missing three kicks in a row, Pollard nails a tough conversion. Is that the game.

TRY! South Africa 18-8 Ireland (Kolbe, 65)

A try from nothing! Kolbe has poached a try that he had no right to score. Pollard, from the penalty after the scrum, misses touch. Lowe keeps the ball alive and Kolbe pounces on the loose ball, kicking it forward and then bursting onto it. He picks up, continues to steam ahead and slides over.

There’s a question if Lowe managed to keep it in play. He did. It’s his brilliance that proves his undoing. Had he been less effective, it would be a South African line-out. Instead it’ll be a South African try.


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64 min: We’re back and it’s a South African penalty from the scrum.

“Should we be impressed by the second half so far?!” asks John Ryan.

No. I think it’s been pretty poor if you ask me. A wonderful opening half hour has been wiped out by a sloppy second half.

Casey is being taken off the field on a stretcher as he receives oxygen.

But he gives a thumbs up to the ground.

63 min: Casey copped a nasty blow to the head as he landed on the hard ground. No foul play. Just an awkward landing and he’s now receiving medical attention.

Ireland’s scrum-half Conor Casey gestures a thumbs up to the crowd. Photograph: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images

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64 min: Scrappy yet again. Ireland secured the ball and carried it into midfield but a rush defence and pressure at the breakdown means the ball is spilled. Both teams make attempts to swipe the ball back on their side. In the end it’s an Irish knock-on that brings that passage to a close so South Africa will have the scrum feed just beyond their own 22.

63 min: Casey lands a 50:22 kick. Things are just starting to go Ireland’s way. Momentum is definitely swinging towards the emerald green. Now they have the line-out throw inside the Boks’ 22.

61 min: Ireland have the ball inside their own 22. They’re starting to grow into this game. So much for altitude fatigue, eh? But now South Africa have the ball back with Williams, on for de Klerk, box kicking high into the dark Pretoria sky. Crowley returns the favour. Cagey stuff at the minute.

60 min: Pollard misses his third kick at goal. That was by some distance.

NO TRY! South Africa 13-8 Ireland

60 min: Try chalked off! Huge moment. And a let off for South Africa. Kelleher was heavily involved in the succesful counter ruck that stole the ball back for Ireland a moment before Lowe cantered up field, but he was on the ground as he flicked his foot at the ball to get it back on his side. Small margins, but them’s the breaks.

Hang tight….. they’re checking this. There’s a chance Kelleher hooked the ball back at the ruck while on the ground.

TRY! South Africa 13-13 Ireland (Lowe, 59)

A try from nothing! James Lowe, take a bow! That is outrageous. A counter ruck has the ball turned over and all of a sudden Lowe is charging down the left tram. He beats one, unfurls a goose-step and burns another to go over in the corner. A truly world class score.

55 min: Ireland are starting to flex their muscles and are making inroads, but Marx pinches a wonderful steal. He’s so good at that. Now South Africa are attacking with le Roux finding Kolbe with a perfectly placed cross-kick. It gets messy though – not for the first time – and Ireland turn the ball…..

54 min: South Africa make a mess of a line-out. Snyman got up and was found by Marx, but he just spilled it. Maybe it was lower than he’d have liked but that wasn’t good enough. So Ireland have the scrum just outside of the Boks’ 22.

52 min: An Irish player spills in contact and South Africa counter 40 metres up field, right back to Ireland’s 22. Strong carries from Kriel and de Allende. Le Roux stitching things together at first receiver. Van Stade, on for Kolisi, adds his weight to the mix. Steenkamp and Marx, with fresh legs, get over the gainline. But van der Flier, as he so often does, gets low and steals the ball from Snyman on the ground. What a player. Casey then clears with a meaty kick. Excellent defence from Ireland. Porter has to leave the field clutching a bloody hand.

51 min: A load of good that did. South Africa give away a penalty at the scrum.

50 min: Here comes the Bomb Squad. South Africa makes six changes to the pack as all six replacements enter the scene. The entire tight five is switched as well as a flank.

50 min: Line-out for South Africa and Mostert catches it clean and looks to ignite a move down the line. But Kriel can’t hold on after collecting a flat pass at pace.

49 min: Kriel chucks a hopeful off-load to Arendse who can’t gather in the left tram. That’s from a brilliant carry and delayed pass from du Toit – who is having a great game – and another promising opportunity fizzles out for the Boks.

48 min: Kriel is bundled into touch on Ireland’s 22. South Africa have had all the ball but haven;t done much with it. But they have it back as Kelleher misses his jumper and Smith pinches the loose ball.

47 min: Another miss from Pollard. That was easier than the one he shanked earlier. Will South Africa regret that?

45 min: There’s a penalty for South Africa after Kolisi carries with enormous strength, bringing multiple Irish defenders with him. A great leg drive has South African charging forward and that invariably leads to a a defender straying off-side. Now Pollard has the chance to add three points to his tally.

44 min: South Africa are getting close. Going coast to coast, picks and goes aplenty but Beirne picks an interception! Incredible defence from Ireland. Not clinical enough from South Africa. A big hit from Osborne on de Klerk forced the speculative pass. Ireland clear close to half-way.

42 min: A slick tip-on from le Roux as the defence rushed forward finds Arendse. South Africa have started brightly and there’s a penalty against Aki who barges over the man on the ground, but from the side. He’s not happy about it. Pollard nudges to the corner. Five out with this line-out.

41 min: Sheehan is off after picking up a knock to his knee in the first half. Kelleher isn’t a bad replacement, mind. Ringriose also replaces Henshaw.

And we’re back! Ireland need a bit more spark. Can they find it?

Although, John Ryan isn’t impressed:

“Before we hear all the talk about what a great, physical, test it was, let’s have some context: South Africa have had all the possession and done nothing with it since the try, and Ireland can’t even kick their penalties from in front of the posts. If these are the two best teams in rugby at the moment we can pack it up now till September…”

I think that’s harsh. I rather enjoyed that.

Back in a few.

Half-time: South Africa 13-8 Ireland

South Africa try and run it after the hooter but they’re turned over and Crowley kicks it out to bring the half to a close.

I thought that was brilliant! Intense, high energy, some quality and great defence. Little to choose between them.


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40 min: Pollard misses his shot. That does’t happen to often.

39 min: Penalty for South Africa. Porter coughing up his second penalty again, this time for illegally disrupting the half-back from an off-side position. Pollard will take aim at the posts.

38 min: Mostert brings down a line-out and Mbonambi gets the rumble on from the back of a maul. There’s a brilliant tackle from Aki who stays upright and wins a turnover from a separate maul in midfield. Lowe unfurls a monster kick down field.

TRY! South Africa 13-8 Ireland (Osborne, 36)

Try on debut! They’re going to check this but it’s good. Lowe shows immense strength to take the strong hit from Kolbe close to the line, keep his feet and off-load for Osborne rushing through to support. The full-back gathers the pass and dives in the corner for a moment he’ll never forget. Excellent from Ireland with a world class contribution from Lowe.

Crowley can’t convert from the touchline.

34 min: Ireland keep it tight and take it close. Porter then Dorris carry. There’s an attempted off-load to Lowe that doesn’t come off but Ireland keep the ball. They’ve been pushed back to about 15 metres out though they come again.

33 min: Another penalty for Ireland as Kriel strays off side from the South African drop-out. This time Crowley kicks it into touch. Ireland will have the line-out throw about seven out from the Boks line.

32 min: Crowley misses his kick! That wasn’t a gimme but it certainly wasn’t a tough chance. Should have landed that.

30 min: After a lengthy delay following the penalty, we’re back with Smith carrying into contact from the restart. De Klerk box kicks and now Ireland have the ball with Furlong. Dorris carries well. Van der Flier takes it close to the 22 and Mbonambi gives away a penalty at the breakdown. Harsh perhaps, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Crowley points to poles.

PENALTY! South Africa 13-3 Ireland (Pollard 29)

He doesn’t miss those. A 10 point lead for the world champs. And to be fair, they’re good value for it. Ireland need to get their hands on the ball.

28 min: Porter tackles de Klerk at the base of a ruck while still on the floor. Can’t do that so Pollard will get a relatively easy shot at goal.

27 min: Pollard lifts a high kick and between de Allende and Kriel they retain possession. Le Roux floats a pass to no one but Kolbe keeps it alive. Eventually Ireland pinch it but the kick from Crowley goes straight out of touch after he received a pass from outside his 22. That means South Africa get the line-out throw inside the 22.

25 min: Ireland’s scrum takes an age and everntually South Africa give away a free kick. Not sure why to be honest. Does anyone know what actually takes place at scrum time? Either way, Ireland clear and South Africa have the line-out feed.


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