Autumn Internationals: Ireland 21 – 23 South Africa

7 11 2010

This match can best be summed up as follows:

  • Ireland: Poor, messy, imprecise and disorganised – they struggled all over the park with only the introduction of Ronan O’Gara providing some much needed stability around the 60 minute mark.
  • Springboks were better but were still hardly firing on all cylinders. They can count themselves lucky not to have met Ireland on a day in which their minds and game were in working order.

We said before this game that we expected to win and to do so fairly comfortably. Even in hindsight this was not an unreasonable idea as at home and with the year the Boks were having, it could be argued that Ireland were the stronger team on paper. Unfortunately one of the least good Irish performances put pay to these assumptions and a golden opportunity to extend the 10 years unbeaten run at home slipped through their fingers.

That the difference was one intercept try suggested a fighting spirit which at least will give the Irish some cheer. Serious questions need to be asked, however, with Declan Kidney in particular answerable to a good few of them. The Irish went out with the desire to play a more open game – a decision that should have been altered as soon as the rain started coming down. Even a school boy with only three years experience knows that, as soon as it starts raining, you keep it simple and play the percentages. That an Irish team apparently didn’t know this suggests a headless attitude that needs to be fixed if they are going to take the next step up from a side talked about as ‘possibles’ to ‘probables’.

South Africa’s overwhelming feeling will undoubtedly be one of relief having won a game which, whilst they should never have lost once they gained their 14 point lead,  would have been severely worried at the prospect given Irelands late resurgence. Pieter De Villiers  has a rather worrying habit, particularly if you are a fan of the Springboks, of changing crucial players around the 60 minute mark – a move that often misfires as the opposing team then sniff a way back in.

Moving forward both sides are going to have to improve massively if they are going to get anything much out of the next couple of weeks. South Africa will be pleased with the win but not with the performance, whereas for Ireland things are only going to get tougher with a match against Kiwis in two weeks time to worry about. A huge improvement is needed if they are going to challenge the All Blacks, fortunately however a game against Samoa next weekend will give much needed respite and a chance to gel.

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