Home Sport Springboks stamp their authority in tough Loftus battle against Ireland

Springboks stamp their authority in tough Loftus battle against Ireland

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This win marks a significant moment for South Africa, as they had suffered eight years of losses to Ireland. The match was part of a two-Test series dubbed “Unfinished Business.”

Jesse Kriel is tackled as the Springboks go on the attack against Ireland during the first Test at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Picture: Louis Botha Fotografie

South Africa secured a thrilling 27-20 victory against Ireland in the first Test match at a packed Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday.

The Springboks took a 13-8 lead at halftime, and despite some challenges, their seven-point margin over the second-ranked team in the world is commendable.

This win marks a significant moment for South Africa, as they had suffered eight years of losses to Ireland. The match was part of a two-Test series dubbed “Unfinished Business.”

The Springboks, who are the reigning Rugby World Cup champions, showcased their top-dog status, although luck and a favourable decision from the Television Match Official played a role.

Ireland, however, will have another chance to square the series in Durban next weekend.

Loftus has seen many rugby battles on its hallowed grounds, and Saturday night was another one of those epic clashes that will go down in history. It was South Africa, the four-time World Cup winners, against Ireland, the number two team in the world.

The last time these two teams met each other at Loftus Versfeld in 1998, it was a war on the field. Fists flew, blood streamed, and every opportunity was used to settle scores. At that time, the now-South African head coach, Rassie Erasmus, was a Bok flanker and scored one of the tries on the day.

South Africa won that battle 33-0. But rugby has changed over the years, and seeing fists fly will leave you red-carded and out of the game.

There is no doubt that the South African team wanted to prove that they are the best team in the world, and that Ireland’s win during the World Cup was a fluke. On the other hand, Ireland had it in mind to beat South Africa by more than 15 points to reclaim the number one spot in the world.

The first two minutes of the game saw much of the play happening in the middle of the field, but South Africa worked the ball to the side and into the hands of Kurtley Arendse to score the first try of the match, after which Handrè Pollard converted to make it 7-0.

Ireland quickly responded with a quick ball, working their way to South Africa’s try line, but a knock-on gave the advantage back to South Africa.

Though Ireland managed a three-pointer, South Africa was awarded a penalty of their own after an Ireland player failed to roll away at the ruck.

Handré Pollard slotted the penalty to put the score at 10-3 for the hosts.

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard contributed 12 points with the boot. Picture: Louis Botha Fotografie

The South African defence was up to the Ireland attacks and before long, Pollard was given another chance to add points; he was on target, ticking the scoreboard to 13-3. It was evident that the Irish team couldn’t hit their straps like at the World Cup.

In the 35th minute, Ireland worked the ball into South Africa’s 22 and, after a well-executed move, scored a try in the corner. However, they could not convert, and the score was 13-8 when the halftime whistle blew.

The second half began with South Africa looking in control. Ten minutes into the half, coach Rassie Erasmus sent on South Africa’s ‘Bomb Squad’.

Ireland made several attempts at the Springboks’ defence but couldn’t break through. The impact of the Bomb Squad was clear, as Malcolm Marx had a massive influence on the game up front.

In the 58th minute, Ireland got hold of the ball after South Africa failed to clean up fast enough and scored a try in the corner. However, after review, the try was denied due to an Irish player illegally hooking the ball with his leg while on the ground.

Picture: Louis Botha Fotografie

Cheslin Kolbe capitalised on an Irish mistake, kicking the ball downfield after an Irish player threw the ball into touch and scored, taking the score at 20-8 in the Springboks’ favour.

The Irish were relentless in their attack, testing South Africa’s defence.

After 13 phases, Kurtley Arendse was sent off with a yellow card for being offside, leaving the Springboks at a disadvantage.

Ireland capitalised on the yellow card, breaking South Africa’s defence and scored under the posts, converting to bring the score to 20-15 with four minutes left. The Springboks didn’t hold back, working a rolling maul over the Irish try line, putting the score at 27-15. Shortly after the restart, however, the never-say-die Irish responded with a try of their own, bringing the score to 27-20.

The Boks held on though and when the final whistle blew, South Africa showed why they are currently the best in the world.

Picture: Louis Botha Fotografie

The crowds erupted with joy, showing their appreciation for the Springboks and what they achieved on the field. The Irish team had been defeated by the World Cup champions and will have to face their supporters, who had high hopes and much to say about the South African team.

They will now have to prepare for the second Test, knowing that Rassie is in their heads.

For now, South Africa remains the best in the world; only time will tell if they can maintain that, and who knows, maybe they can bring home a fifth trophy at the next World Cup.

Only time will tell.

Scorers:

Springboks 27 (13) – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cheslin Kolbe, Penalty try. Conversions: Handre Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (2).

Ireland 20 (8) – Tries: Jamie Osborne, Conor Murray, Ryan Baird. Conversion: Jack Crowley. Penalty: Crowley.

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