Springboks end Ireland’s hoodoo

The Springboks drew on the power of their Bomb Squad to secure their first win over Ireland since 2016 in the series opener in Pretoria on Saturday.

A penalty try following a mass scrum in the final two minutes allowed the Springboks to seal a 27-20 victory over a tenacious Ireland at a sold-out Loftus Versfeld in the first of two tests.

South Africa end their long losing streak to Ireland, which dates back to the visitors’ last tour of the country eight years ago.

In a thrilling test match, the Springboks twice took a 12-point lead in the second half, but Ireland continued to fight back.

The Springboks got off to a flying start with Kurt-Lee Arendse’s try, brilliantly worked by Siya Kolisi and man of the match Jesse Kriel after a break down the left flank by Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Two Handre Pollard penalties kept the scoreline ticking but a brilliant move from James Lowe broke through the Bok defence as the winger produced a sublime offload to put full-back Jamie Osborne through just before the break.

Leading 13-8 at half-time, the Springboks created chances in the second half but were well contained by Ireland’s fast defending and pressure at the break.

The visitors thought they had levelled the scores when Lowe was released on the left wing, but the TMO intervened and disallowed the try for an infringement at the breakdown.

Lowe’s brilliance benefited the Springboks at a key moment in the game as he repeated his athleticism to prevent a Pollard penalty kick from going into play, only for Cheslin Kolbe to pounce on the loose ball, kick it forward and tap it in to open up some space on the scoreboard.

To Ireland’s credit, they kept fighting and scored an excellent try of their own when Connor Murray raced in under the posts after a line break following a South Africa drop out on the goal line.

The decisive moment came after Lowe lost the ball following Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s kick-off, forcing the Springboks into a five-metre scrum. The famed Bomb Squad needed no second invitation and made a powerful push to earn a penalty try.

Despite Ireland getting another try through Ryan Baird in the final minute, the Springboks trapped Ireland in their own 22 and forced the knock-on to seal the victory.

Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images