SOUTH Africa came from 12-3 down at half-time to beat Ireland 16-12 at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
Ireland 12 - 26 South Africa
Scorers: Ireland: Pens: Sexton 4. South Africa: Tries: Pienaar. Cons: Lambie. Pens: Lambie 3
The Springboks were lethargic in the first half, perhaps still stunned by the brief hospitalisation in the morning of prop Tendai Mtawarira for heart palpitations. “The Beast” was understandably withdrawn from the run-on side.
Johnny Sexton’s four penalties gave the home side a nine-point lead but, when the second half kicked off, so finally did South Africa, thanks to a dominant pack. Within minutes, their pressure on the tryline forced new Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip to be sin-binned, and moments later the only try was scored off a ruck near the posts, by diving scrum-half Ruan Pienaar.
Pat Lambie added a conversion, and his second penalty in the 53rd gave the Boks the lead for the first time. They never looked like giving it up.
Pienaar, who plays club rugby for Ulster, said: “I think we had a terrible first half.
“Our kicking game wasn’t that great. In the second half our forwards made a huge step up.
“We got a couple of good drives going, kept the ball and forced them to make errors.
“I’m very proud of the guys, especially in the second half.”
Ireland: Zebo, Bowe, Earls, D’Arcy, Trimble, Sexton, Murray, Healy, Strauss, Ross, Ryan, McCarthy, O’Mahony, Henry, Heaslip. Replacements: O’Gara for D’Arcy (76), McFadden for Trimble (59), Reddan for Murray (62), Cronin for Strauss (76), O’Callaghan for Ryan (64), Henderson for O’Mahony (71). Not Used: Kilcoyne, Bent.
South Africa: Kirchner, Pietersen, Taute, de Villiers, Hougaard, Lambie, Pienaar, van der Linde, Strauss, J. du Plessis, Etzebeth, J. Kruger, Louw, Alberts, Vermeulen. Replacements: H. van der Merwe for van der Linde (64), Cilliers for J. du Plessis (56), F. van der Merwe for Etzebeth (71), Coetzee for Alberts (65). Not Used: Brits, M. Steyn, de Jongh, Mvovo.
Att: 50,000. Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU).