South Africa v Ireland LIVE rugby: Result and reaction as Springboks survive crazy finish to win first Test

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa emerged on top from a crazy contest against Ireland in Pretoria as the World Cup winners marked their homecoming with victory in the first Test of a potentially thrilling series.

The Springboks secured their first win over Ireland in eight years at Loftus Versfeld, with their bench impactful in a contest punctuated by a serious injury to Ireland scrum half Craig Casey. After a long delay, Cheslin Kolbe pounced on a James Lowe error to put the hosts in control, with a late shove-over scrum score engineered by South Africa’s Bomb Squad sealing the win despite a late Irish rally.

Lowe had earlier been denied by a tight call from the television match official having seemingly put Ireland in front in the second half. Ireland, however, were deemed to have infringed at the breakdown prior to Lowe’s canter up the left touchline, with referee Luke Pearce chalking the score off.

It means Andy Farrell’s side will head to Durban next week down 1-0 in the two-Test series and hoping to hit back after an encounter that delivered on the spite and spice anticipated as two familiar foes re-ignited their rivalry.

Re-live all of the action rom South Africa vs Ireland below:

South Africa vs Ireland

  • Springboks survive helter-skelter finish to win first Test in Pretoria

  • FT: South Africa 27-20 Ireland

  • TRY! South Africa 20-15 IRELAND (Conor Murray, 76 minutes)

  • TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 20-8 Ireland (Cheslin Kolbe try, 66 minutes)

  • NO TRY! James Lowe score ruled out for Ireland infringement (South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 60 minutes)

  • HT: South Africa 13-8 Ireland

  • TRY! South Africa 13-8 IRELAND (Jamie Osborne, 36 minutes)

  • TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 7-0 Ireland (Kurt-Lee Arendse, 3 minutes)


South Africa hold off Ireland fightback to edge first Test

18:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa battled to a fortunate 27-20 victory over Ireland in the first Test on Saturday, playing for only the second time since October’s World Cup triumph and struggling to shrug off the rust.

Both sides scored three tries in a tight match at Loftus Versfeld with home wingers Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe crossing for the home side, plus a penalty try awarded by English referee Luke Pearce.

Ireland fullback Jamie Osborne scored on debut with Conor Murray and Ryan Baird adding tries for the touring side in a dramatic final five minutes.

South Africa hold off Ireland fightback to edge first Test

Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony speaks to Sky Sports

18:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“It was a tough battle. We knew it was going to be very, very difficult here. There are a lot of positives to take out of their postives, but there were little bits here and there that a side like the Springboks are going to punish.

“We knew coming in that there was going to be a bit of a tweak to the Springboks’ approach. Certainly, they are playing a bit more expansively. We’ll have a look.”

South Africa survive crazy finish to cling on against Ireland

18:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

So on to Durban, then, with tensions simmering today and likely to be similarly hot next week. Ireland will fret over the health of Craig Casey and Dan Sheehan - let us hope Casey particularly is ok after that horrible incident.

FT: South Africa 27-20 Ireland

18:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Plenty of debate over James Lowe’s try being chalked off. Should TMO Ben Whitehouse come in for a ticky-tacky breakdown infringement? It proved a pivotal moment, particularly after the Ireland wing then gifted Cheslin Kolbe a try in another marginal call.

FT: South Africa 27-20 Ireland

18:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Blimey. Truly breathless stuff at the end, but the Springboks have held on by a score! It was a contest that took time to warm but that final quarter was quite something, both sides throwing haymakers after injury to Craig Casey had forced a long second-half pause. Let us hope the Ireland scrum half is ok.

South Africa nudge in front in this two-match series with their first win over Ireland in eight years.

FULL TIME! South Africa 27-20 Ireland

18:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 27-20 Ireland, 80 minutes

18:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

One last chance for Ireland, but they’ll have to go the length. Is that a knock-on? Luke Pearce thinks not...his TMO disagrees! It’s all over in Pretoria and the Springboks have clung on!

TRY! South Africa 27-20 IRELAND (Ryan Baird try, 80 minutes)

18:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle


James Lowe now creates a score, atoning for his error with dynamite feet and then a delectable offload for Ryan Baird. The rangy back row strides in.

Can Jack Crowley convert? Not quite, the ball falling off his tee and forcing him to hurry. The draw is still a possibility, though.

PENALTY TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 27-15 Ireland (Penalty try, 78 minutes)

18:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Coup de grace!

South Africa 20-15 Ireland, 77 minutes

18:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another horrible moment for James Lowe! Ireland let the restart bounce and Lowe, scrambling back to try and ground but knocking on in-goal. South Africa’s scrum five metres out.

TRY! South Africa 20-15 IRELAND (Conor Murray, 76 minutes)

18:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle


A neat inside move sends a carrier into space and Conor Murray is there in support! Jack Crowley wastes no time converting - do we have a twist?

Held up! South Africa 20-8 Ireland, 75 minutes

17:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland fume, but South Africa survive! Caelan Doris charges over to Luke Pearce, believing the ball might have been grounded by the left-hand post, but the referee is clear in his call that he’s held up.

Or is he? Pearce sends it upstairs for a look. No try! How unfortunate for Doris, reaching far enough but grounding on a fallen Springbok’s calf! Ireland within inches but that, you’d think, will be that.

YELLOW CARD! Kurt-Lee Arendse is sent to the sin bin! South Africa 20-8 Ireland, 74 minutes

17:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another penalty...and Luke Pearce loses patience! To his pocket the referee goes as Kurt-Lee Arendse infringes, and South Africa will have to see this out down a man.

South Africa 20-8 Ireland, 72 minutes

17:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ciaran Frawley gets to the edge but can’t cling on to a pass shuffled behind him. Ireland have a free kick to go back to, though - off they go in haste, as well they might.

South Africa 20-8 Ireland, 71 minutes

17:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty to Ireland, South Africa failing to roll away. Nine minutes left as Jack Crowley prods to the left corner - Ireland have to score, you’d think.

South Africa 20-8 Ireland, 70 minutes

17:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Stolen by Pieter-Steph du Toit! Big. Game. Player. Up goes a telescopic limb to snatch Ireland’s lineout from the clouds.

South Africa 20-8 Ireland, 68 minutes

17:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Can Ireland recover from that blow? You feel like the break suited the Springboks, allowing their replacement forwards to recover and recharge after making a punchy initial impact.

A scuffle and a scrap as Luke Pearce awards a penalty Ireland’s way. It’s predictably spiky!

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 20-8 Ireland (Cheslin Kolbe try, 66 minutes)

17:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

An opportunistic score from Cheslin Kolbe to put the Springboks in control!

Oh, James Lowe...

A kick to touch is kept in by the Ireland wing, leaping impressively and throwing the ball back into play. The problem for him is that Kolbe has chased intelligently, hacking ahead and grounding.

Hang on, though - had Lowe’s boot just scraped the touchline before he released? It will be ruled out if so...

It’s so, so close. Lowe had released, but the ball might just have brushed his left thigh with the studs of his right boot in the turf. TMO Ben Whitehouse deliberates over the footage, working through the angles with referee Luke Pearce. Can they find an angle that shows it clearly?

GIVEN! Loftus Versfeld roars! Whitehouse urges Pearce to stick with the on-field call, and South AFrica, thanks to Handre Pollard’s conversion, extend their advantage by seven.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 64 minutes

17:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Grant Williams is on for South Africa and will feed the scrum, the forwards taking their time to get their set-up right after the long pause. The Springboks immediately go to work, Gerhard Steenekamp producing a first standout scrummaging moment on debut at loosehead.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 63 minutes

17:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Craig Casey is taken away on a cart as the Ireland team doctor cradles him. He is able to raise a thumb to the crowd - so pleasing to see, and we wish him a speedy recovery.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 65 minutes

17:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is a long delay, the medics rightly making sure that due care is taken with every action in a difficult situation. A moment to remember just how tough this sport is, and what the players put themselves through.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 65 minutes

17:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Conor Murray is on and waiting, looking on anxiously as his Munster mate is attended to.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 64 minutes

17:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

On rush the medics, putting Casey in the recovery position and ensuring that the stretcher and oxygen are ready. Let us hope that is not as serious as it looks.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 63 minutes

17:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Oh no. Oh no, oh no. Craig Casey looks to be knocked out, his head having slammed back into the turf as RG Snyman drove him back past the ball.

It’s not an illegal challenge, but the outcome is horrible, and Snyman perhaps could have released the scrum half sooner. This is really worrying.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 63 minutes

17:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Andrew Porter is back, surprisingly, having clearly overcome that earlier injury. Cian Healy traipses off again; Finlay Bealham is on for Tadhg Furlong, too.

Missed penalty! South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 61 minutes

17:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

How pivotal a moment might that be? Fortunately for Ireland, Handre Pollard can’t bisect ‘em from a tough kick, 55 out on the angle.


NO TRY! South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 60 minutes

17:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A sensational solo score from James Lowe!

Vintage Lowe! Ireland pile bodies in to a ruck just beyond halfway, and South Africa have to thrown men in to resource it. The ball pops free and Craig Casey finds Lowe on a now under-resourced blindside. The wing gets his sprinting spikes on, throwing in that piston-like fend to bat away the last defender.

But the TMO wants to check it! And it’ll all be for nought! Ireland are deemed to have infringed in their winning back of the ball and the try is chalked off!

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 58 minutes

17:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 56 minutes

17:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Bench impact! In Malcolm Marx and Marco van Staden, South Africa have brought on probably their two best breakdown operators, and the pair combine to earn a penalty out of a stranded Irishman with the supporting clearout men slow to come.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 55 minutes

17:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s a bit of a worry for Ireland, though. Andrew Porter is being helped off with his arm clearly in some discomfort. Cian Healy winces as he passes his stricken mate, the veteran with 30 minutes to survive.

He’s into a scrum quickly, too, as Ireland earn one in advanced South Africa territory. It’s unsteady as Craig Casey waits to feed, and Caelan Doris wastes no time in springing away.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 53 minutes

17:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Onwards South Africa go, the phase count growing into double figures. But Josh van der Flier has it! A vital turnover on the fringes of his own 22 to save Ireland just as momentum was building!

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 52 minutes

17:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa up the intensity, their fresh forwards thrown injecting intent and ill-will. Malcolm Marx and Salmaan Moerat each put their tackler on their backside.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 51 minutes

17:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A double switch for Ireland, too: James Ryan and Ryan Baird replace Joe McCarthy and Peter O’Mahony.

Joy for Ireland! So much for the Bomb Squad, blown away at the opening scrum and conceding a penalty.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 50 minutes

17:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The Bomb Squad mass on the touchline, ready for their demolition job. A South Africa midfield knock on should grant Rassie Erasmus the opportunity to introduce them.

Enter: Malcolm Marx, Gerhard Steenekamp (on debut), Vincent Koch, Salmaan Moerat, RG Snyman and Marco van Staden. Off go: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert and Siya Kolisi. Six forwards in, six forward out. Got it? Good.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 49 minutes

17:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Inacurrate! South Africa work to the edge and there’s a chance for Kurt-Lee Arendse to step the final defender if the pass to him is good. It’s not - behind him, spilled, and an opportunity missed.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 47 minutes

17:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

South Africa put pressure on Ronan Kelleher’s lineout throw, and Joe McCarthy juggles it at the rear. South Africa pounce on the loose ball just inside Ireland’s 22, Kwagga Smith darting forward.

Missed penalty! South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 47 minutes

17:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Now then. Handre Pollard errs, tugging his effort from 45 or so left.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 46 minutes

17:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A penalty against Ireland, though. Peter O’Mahony and Siya Kolisi are called in for a chat. Handre Pollard prepares his tee.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 45 minutes

17:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s five turnovers now for Ireland; the official stats have South Africa’s count at one. They are just staying in there, clinging on, keeping in the fight.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 44 minutes

17:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A try here would be huge for South Africa’s momentum. Faf de Klerk pikcs his runners, sending them repeatedly around the corner. Ireland just about holding firm for now.

And it’s Ireland’s ball! Franco Mostert offloads, De Klerk flings with abandon, and Ireland are there to snatch it!

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 43 minutes

17:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Bundee Aki slaps his head in frustration as he is caught with his hands in the cookie jar with the ruck long since formed. An apologetic hand goes up towards his team mates as South Africa find the corner.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 41 minutes

17:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ronan Kelleher is on for Ireland - unsurprising given the level of strapping on Dan Sheehan’s knee.

South Africa again with plenty of adventure to start the half.

Second half!

17:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Back underway!

Second half...

17:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right, just about ready to resume in Pretoria. This one could go anywhere - will the Springboks’ power-packed bench tilt this contest their way, or can Ireland match them all the way?

HT: South Africa 13-8 Ireland

16:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A relatively even first half in Pretoria, South Africa showing off some attacking expansion but not quite able to cut Ireland apart, the visitors sticking in there but having to work hard to make the most of their opportunities. It’s been mightily physical, as you’d have expected.

HALF TIME: South Africa 13-8 Ireland

16:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 41 minutes

16:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The clock is dead but South Africa play on just inside the Ireland half. Frans Malherbe makes a rare surge, showing Cheslin Kolbe how it is done as the wing is tonked on his back a phase later.

But a turnover, and that’ll be that for the half.

South Africa 13-8 Ireland, 38 minutes

16:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Old school defence from Ireland, standing up a defender and swarming to smother in, forcing a turnover as it comes to deck. Andrew Porter is pinged again, though, in the next movement, once more over-eager to take Faf de Klerk having driven through a ruck.

TRY! South Africa 13-8 IRELAND (Jamie Osborne, 36 minutes)

16:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A simply magnificent try conjured from nowhere!

Jamie Osborne is the try scorer on debut but this is all about the supreme skill of the three men to touch it before him. Jack Crowley is first, arcing a delicious pass over the top for Dan Sheehan to hit at pace. The hooker deftly drops off to James Lowe on the switch out the back door, and the wing’s role in the score is best of all, somehow keeping himself in the field of play as Cheslin Kolbe rocks him and contorting an offload over the top.

Osborne can’t help but flop over from a few metres out. Magic stuff!

South Africa 13-3 Ireland, 35 minutes

16:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Strong fringe defence from the Springboks forwards, knocking back the carriers. Caelan Doris puts some footwork on and makes half-a-metre, but Dan Sheehan’s foolish offload squanders some momentum. James Lowe picks up the pieces and Ireland keep on trucking, though they aren’t getting much joy.

South Africa 13-3 Ireland, 34 minutes

16:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland now kick a penalty to the corner. Just a bit of pressure beginning to build on the Springboks, unable to escape their own end. Can the visitors make the territory count?

Missed penalty! South Africa 13-3 Ireland, 32 minutes

16:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A disappointing miss from Jack Crowley. The fly half doesn’t get his strike right and three points slip by.

South Africa 13-3 Ireland, 30 minutes

16:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dan Sheehan’s left leg already has a healthy amount of strapping on it, and the Ireland hooker is getting more tape and protection before we resume. That doesn’t feel a particularly promising sign, Sheehan sporting a mummified knee as he re-joins his team mates.

PENALTY! SOUTH AFRICA 13-3 Ireland (Handre Pollard, 29 minutes)

16:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A simple one for Handre Pollard to widen the Springboks’ advantage.

South Africa 10-3 Ireland, 28 minutes

16:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s not legal from Andrew Porter, making a tackle while part of a ruck and off his feet. This should be three more points...

South Africa 10-3 Ireland, 26 minutes

16:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Cheslin Kolbe is really holding his width on the right, stretching the Ireland defence. As forwards plough forth trying to make the most of the wing’s scamper, Caelan Doris is alive to a ball left alone on the floor and has the pilfering hands to pinch it.

That’s sloppy, though. Jack Crowley finds touch but the ball had been carried back into the 22.

South Africa 10-3 Ireland, 25 minutes

16:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s definitely more variety about this South African attack today, Tony Brown’s touches clear as they work through their playbook. Handre Pollard is orchestrating well - it sometimes feels like his ability as a distributor goes under the radar given how good he is as a game manager.

The Springboks shove too soon at the scrum, allowing Jack Crowley to take his time and thump the free kick to touch.


South Africa 10-3 Ireland, 23 minutes

16:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Both sides trade blows on halfway, before Damian de Allende sits down three Irish defenders to get South Africa going. And how they go! Cheslin Kolbe tightropes up the touchline after a neat offload from Pieter-Steph du Toit, getting into the Ireland 22.

But a canny hand from Craig Casey disrupts Faf de Klerk as he tries to fling away from the base. Knock on, Ireland’s scrum!

South Africa 10-3 Ireland, 22 minutes

16:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Back down the two sets of burly blokes go for some more shoving. Faf de Klerk feeds, and South Africa re more stable, allowing the backs to go to work. Kurt-Lee Arendse loops round off his blindside wing with menace, but Willie le Roux is intercepted trying to switch direction back to the left. Dan Sheehan got his paws to it but couldn’t quite hold his feet - the hooker is seriously quick and might have accelerated away.

South Africa 10-3 Ireland, 20 minutes

16:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Willie le Roux’s crossfield kick is delivered with a flatter trajectory, but Jamie Osborne watchfully shepherds it to touch with no chaser close enough to capitalise.

South Africa 10-3 Ireland, 19 minutes

16:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland are just geting their details and drills wrong. Dan Sheehan hesitates waiting to throw a lineout and Ireland are free kicked.

The rules have changed, of course, with sides no longer permitted to scrum from a free kick. South Africa instead send something up to the heavens, which Ireland handle nicely.

PENALTY! SOUTH AFRICA 10-3 Ireland (Handre Pollard, 18 minutes)

16:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Handre Pollard’s first kick in Test rugby since what proved to be the World Cup final winner is a good’un.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 7-3 Ireland, 16 minutes

16:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This scrum skirmish is once more edged by Ireland, but Kwagga Smith and Faf de Klerk’s extraction is prompt. South Africa run out of steam as Jesse Kriel and Cheslin Kolbe attempt to connect on the right, but a lazy Joe McCarthy is done for not rolling away.

Posts is the call.

South Africa 7-3 Ireland, 16 minutes

16:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Thankfully, Hensaw seems to be ok. Siya Kolisi checks on him, too, as he makes his way back into the Ireland defensive line.

South Africa 7-3 Ireland, 15 minutes

16:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Eek! A shrill blast of the whistle from Luke Pearce as Robbie Henshaw thuds into the floor after a carrying Siya Kolisi’s shoulder makes heavy contact with his chin. Pearce rightly calls the game to a halt, fearing for Henshaw’s safety - there’s no foul play in the incident but two medics come on to check the centre, who is back on his feet, out.

South Africa 7-3 Ireland, 15 minutes

16:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Width again in the South African attack as Jesse Kriel is sent up on a crash after a pass across Damian de Allende’s face. Jamie Osborne then does very well to scramble back into position and smother a kick; South Africa clearly feel they can get joy with those prods behind today.

PENALTY! South Africa 7-3 IRELAND (Jack Crowley, 13 minutes)

16:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Beautifully done. A lovely start from the tee from Jack Crowley to get Ireland on the board.

South Africa 7-0 Ireland, 11 minutes

16:17 , Jack Rathborn

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa 7-0 Ireland, 12 minutes

16:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A second penalty against South Africa, and this one is kickable. Jack Crowley will line up the posts from around about the ten-metre - distance won’t be an issue at altitude.

South Africa 7-0 Ireland, 11 minutes

16:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Loose again from Kwagga Smith. A second spill of the first 11 minutes and Kurt-Lee Arendse then compounds the error by tripping over Smith. Ireland’s penalty.

South Africa 7-0 Ireland, 10 minutes

16:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Handre Pollard skuds a kick through but James Lowe has it handled, dotting down to earn a goal line drop out. Ireland’s defensive set was much better there, not getting too narrow as for this opening score.

South Africa 7-0 Ireland, 9 minutes

16:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

An early advantage for Ireland at scrum time, but Kwagga Smith wisely takes the pot off the boil and scurries away. That’s some clearance from Cheslin Kolbe, too, showing off his big right boot.

And to make it even better, it had just brushed Jamie Osborne’s fingers before tumbling into touch. South Africa gain all of 60 metres.

South Africa 7-0 Ireland, 7 minutes

16:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Knocked on! Ireland go route one and then try to vary the angle, Caelan Doris peeling back on the diagonal but met well by two hulking South Africans. Peter O’Mahony’s flick off the floor is then fumbled by a carrying Joe McCarthy - and there are our first handbags, players from both sides pushing and jawing at one another.

South Africa 7-0 Ireland, 6 minutes

16:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Advantage coming, and a second penalty, too, both for offside. Can Ireland find the right play? No, Jesse Kriel tumbles in to Craig Casey and knocks the scrum half off his feet as he looks to pass. Nothing untoward.

Ireland will tap quickly!

South Africa 7-0 Ireland, 5 minutes

16:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A peculiar error from the normally rock solid Kwagga Smith, losing track of Jack Crowley’s restart and knocking on inside his own. An excellent shot at an immediate reply for Ireland.

TRY! SOUTH AFRICA 7-0 Ireland (Kurt-Lee Arendse, 3 minutes)

16:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Irresistable stepping!

Magnificent from Kurt-Lee Arendse! He’s just so tricky to get to grips with, all flashing feet and fancy flicks. Siya Kolisi puts him away up the left and Jamie Osborne is left sliding clutching at thin air as Arendse does him with his hips, strutting beneath the posts to go in untouched. Handre Pollard adds the two.

South Africa 0-0 Ireland, 2 minutes

16:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A frighteningly physical opening. Pieter-Steph du Toit punches over the gain line; Franco Mostert is thwacked back. Jamie Osborne makes a better job of his next assignment, weaving through traffic and taking cleanly.

South Africa 0-0 Ireland, 1 minute

16:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A bit of an early worry for Jamie Osborne as a box kick doesn’t reach him, forcing a retreating forward to tap it back to the full-back. South Africa soon wrench breakdown ball away.


16:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The first Test is underway at Loftus Versfeld!

South Africa vs Ireland

16:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right, off we go. South Africa, as is tradition in rugby, are in their change strip; Ireland familiar green.


16:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A smattering of Irishmen and women have made the trip down to Pretoria. They warble along to “Ireland’s Call”.

A powerful, emotional South African national anthem, plenty of players looking to the heavens or shutting their eyes. Eben Etzebeth breaks into a smile as he soaks it all in.

South Africa vs Ireland

15:59 , Jack Rathborn

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa vs Ireland

15:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Out comes Peter O’Mahony and his squad, a slightly tentative trudge through the more slippery parts of the long Loftus Versfeld tunnel and then a more purposeful march into the evening air.

The volume lifts as the Springboks make their homecoming. They were denied this, of course, after 2019 due to the pandemic - the world champions are back on their own patch.

South Africa vs Ireland

15:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Good areas from the band, playing “Zombie” as the squads assemble in the tunnel, imploring the stands to chant “Rassie” in lieu of Dolores O’Riordan’s usual pained cries. There’s going to be a bit of niggle.

South Africa vs Ireland

15:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Loftus Versfeld is bouncing for kick off, a brass and percussion band providing heavy beats to get the crowd on their feet. World Cup winners vs Six Nations champions - let’s get going!

South Africa vs Ireland match officials

15:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Kick off rapidly approaching in Pretoria. Here are the names you need to know from an officiating point of view:

Referee: Luke Pearce (Eng)

ARs: Karl Dickson (Eng) & Mike Adamson (Sco)

TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wal)

South Africa vs Ireland

15:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s the first game in charge of South Africa’s defence for former Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery today. Given how Harlequins’ defence fell apart after Flannery’s sudden departure last year, he was clearly doing fine work in South West London - that could be a good bit of business from Rassie Erasmus, drawing on his significant connections with Munster to replace both Jacques Nienaber and Felix Jones.

Attack coach Tony Brown is one of the most highly-rated schemers in the world, too, and it’ll be fun to see what wrinkles he throws in today. Duane Vermeulen also steps up into the South African coaching team after being a key leader on and off the field for the last half-decade.

A new face who could become key Springboks figure

15:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

After an enterprising debut off the bench against Wales, it’ll be fascinating to see how Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu is utilised today. The Stormer offers versatility and variety at 10, 12 or 15 – where Rassie Erasmus deploys him may be a key indicator in how he sees South Africa evolving over the next few years. That adaptability ensures that the Springboks can stick with their favoured six/two bench and not fret about playing someone out of position, particularly with replacement scrum half Grant Williams covering wing, too.

How Rassie Erasmus uses his bench will be intriguing (PA Wire)
How Rassie Erasmus uses his bench will be intriguing (PA Wire)

South Africa vs Ireland

15:40 , Jack Rathborn

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

One last ride for Peter O’Mahony?

15:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There was plenty of speculation at the end of the Six Nations that Peter O’Mahony’s final Ireland game might have been the title-sealing win over Scotland, but the flanker has been named captain again in Andy Farrell’s squad to confront the Springboks. The 34-year-old is probably the perfect leader for a tour of South Africa, confrontational and robust, yet there are signs that Farrell is starting to really think about life after his leader.

Ryan Baird is getting better and better on the blindside, while Cian Prendergast has several strong seasons behind him. Newbie Cormac Izuchukwu has quickly gone from an intriguing project to a genuine difference-maker at Ulster, while Tom Ahern will surely be back in the mix after injury. The quartet are all long-limbed lineout leapers with the acceleration to cause real problems as edge forwards in Ireland’s attacking structure — it may be that a couple of them are seen as locks but it’s a fascinating group regardless.

Can Joe McCarthy build on impressive Six Nations?

15:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Though Jack Crowley looks a fly half to build around, perhaps Ireland’s find of the Six Nations was Joe McCarthy, a tighthead lock who showed he could mix it with the big boys in the opener against France in Marseille particularly. This, though, will offer another yardstick in his development - Eben Etzebeth remains probably the premier lock in the world and, given his comments in the build-up, seems properly up for it.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Huge test for Jamie Osborne

15:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It will be a huge challenge that Jamie Osborne will be posed today against a side that kick well tactically. It’s worth remembering that the Leinster man did not make a single start at full-back all season domestically, excelling instead in the centres with Garry Ringrose and Charlie Ngatai enduring injury-hit campaigns. There is no doubting his talent, and Andy Farrell clearly backs him, but replacing all that Hugo Keenan offers is an unenviable task.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

South Africa opt for experience as Siya Kolisi returns for first Ireland clash

15:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s been a funny few months for Siya Kolisi. The flanker’s place as one of rugby’s greatest leaders is not in doubt, but Racing 92 didn’t necessarily feel they got best value out of the first year of Kolisi’s lucrative contract in Paris, with thinly-veiled comments suggesting that the club felt Kolisi was perhaps carrying a little too much weight and overly-focussed on efforts off the field rather than on it.

Even Rassie Erasmus hinted that he would consider a switch of Springboks skipper earlier this year given his preference for a captain based domestically, which meant there was more intrigue than usual when the South Africa series for this squad was confirmed. As it happens, Erasmus ultimately decided to stick with Kolisi, giving strong backing to the openside flanker and firing a furious shot back at Racing for what he felt were unfair comments about his long-time leader.

South Africa opt for experience as Siya Kolisi returns for first Ireland clash

Wales’ losing run continues against Wallabies

14:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Over the Tasman, meanwhile Wales’ long run of defeats continued despite a battling performance in Sydney as they were beaten 25-16 by Australia.

It was their 12th successive loss to the Wallabies in Australia, and eighth on the bounce against all opponents.

Wales’ losing run continues, but there were promising signs against Australia

England suffer agonising defeat as All Blacks snatch victory in first Test

14:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Before we get going with this afternoon’s live action in earnest, here’s a reminder of events in Dunedin a little earlier, with an impressive England ultimately falling short as the All Blacks snatched first Test victory:

England suffer agonising defeat as All Blacks snatch victory in first Test

It means nothing – Mike Catt not interested in South Africa comments on Ireland

14:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland assistant coach Mike Catt dismissed the significance of potentially provocative comments from the South Africa camp ahead of the series.

Springboks trio Eben Etzebeth, Damian de Allende and Cheslin Kolbe are among those to have stoked the flames of a growing rivalry between the world’s two top-ranked sides since last year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

People can say what they want. It means nothing to us. It’s something we don’t particularly worry about,” South Africa-born attack coach Catt told reporters.

It means nothing – Mike Catt not interested in South Africa comments on Ireland

Peter O’Mahony backs Jamie Osborne to shine on debut

14:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony feels it was only a matter of time before Jamie Osborne was handed his senior debut, which will come in the first Test against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday.

With Hugo Keenan preparing for the Olympic Sevens in Paris later this month, there had been an an expectation Jimmy O’Brien would be slotted into the side at full-back.

Head coach Andy Farrell, though, instead made something of a surprise selection with Osborne, who primarily plays at centre, drafted in.

The Leinster 22-year-old may have started at full-back only twice for his province, but O’Mahony has every confidence Osborne can rise to the challenge against the world champions at Loftus Versfeld.

“He has been very patient. The kid is pretty understanding and obviously has delivered incredibly well for Leinster over the last however many seasons,” O’Mahony said at a press conference.

“One of the lads presented him with his (Ireland) jersey last night and he said it was not as if it was when the cap was going to come for him.

“He is one of these guys who is just really cool, calm, who wants to learn.

“He is a top-class professional at an early age, so you (media) said people were shocked, but I don’t think anyone in our squad was shocked about it.”

Team news - Ireland

14:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Andy Farrell hands a debut to Leinster’s Jamie Osborne at full-back in the absence of club colleague Hugo Keenan, who has joined up with the Ireland Sevens squad ahead of an Olympic medal bid in Paris. Scrum half Jamison Gibson-Park, meanwhile, is a major injury absentee, so Craig Casey gets the nod ahead of Conor Murray. A settled side elsewhere sees Jack Crowley continue at fly half after a solid Six Nations.

Ireland XV: 1 Andrew Porter, 2 Dan Sheehan, 3 Tadhg Furlong; 4 Joe McCarthy, 5 Tadhg Beirne; 6 Peter O’Mahony (capt.), 7 Josh van der Flier, 8 Caelan Doris; 9 Craig Casey, 10 Jack Crowley; 11 James Lowe, 12 Bundee Aki, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Calvin Nash; 15 Jamie Osborne.

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kellher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 James Ryan, 20 Ryan Baird; 21 Conor Murray, 22 Ciaran Frawley, 23 Garry Ringrose.

Team news - South Africa

13:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

With the Springboks’ European-based players back available, Rassie Erasmus returns Siya Kolisi and Handre Pollard to a starting South African side that includes 12 of the 15 starters from the World Cup final. Ox Nche, Kwagga Smith and Willie le Roux each came off the bench in Paris and are promoted. Gerhard Steenekamp is a new face among the six forwards on the bench — the loosehead enjoyed a strong season for the Bulls and is set for an international debut on familiar turf.

South Africa XV: 1 Ox Nche, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe; 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Franco Mostert; 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Kwagga Smith; 9 Faf de Klerk, 10 Handre Pollard; 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 12 Damian de Allende, 13 Jesse Kriel, 14 Cheslin Kolbe; 15 Willie le Roux.

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Marco van Staden; 22 Grant Williams, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

South Africa vs Ireland

13:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle


South Africa win 7/15

Draw 24/1

Ireland win 12/5


South Africa 20-17 Ireland

Is South Africa v Ireland on TV? Kick-off time, channel and how to watch first Test

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