Springboks rue missed chances as Ireland win titanic struggle in Paris

Springboks rue missed chances as Ireland win titanic struggle in Paris

The Springboks paid the price for failure to take their chances as Andy Farrell's impressive Ireland side emerged 13-8 winners in Paris.

It was an absolute cracking match in front of a packed Stade de France that lived up to its billing, even if the result did not go the Springboks' way.

Had the Boks been a little more clinical and composed on the night and - it has to be said - had they had a reliable kicker, the result might have been different, but to be fair to Ireland, they showed moments of brilliance and did their part to make it a match to remember.

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Ireland won an early penalty in Springbok territory and bravely opted to take the line-out rather than take the points, but it didn't work out as Pieter-Steph du Toit came up with the steal.

Within moments, the Springboks were on the attack, making their way all the way to the Irish 22 before some desperate Irish defence saw the Boks kept out.

They were playing under penalty advantage, however, and decided to take the points on offer, Manie Libbok gratefully accepting an easy kick first up to settle his nerves and put the Boks ahead.

There were warning signs for Ireland as a second straight line-out went awry, spoiling some great field position after they'd won a penalty and kicked their way up the field.

When the Boks gave away another penalty at the breakdown, Ireland lost their third straight line-out, but they soon went back on the attack, a superb delayed pass in the midfield creating space for Ireland fullback Hugo Keenan out wide and taking them to the line before a knock-on saw the ball turned over.

Moments later, the Boks launched a nice attack sparked by Damian Willemse at the back, but when Kurt-Lee Arendse got isolated, it was another penalty to the Irish for holding on. However, the Boks soon gave it straight back at them as Du Toit got over the ball to win a valuable turnover.

The Boks came desperately close when Damian de Allende beat Johnny Sexton and nearly went over via an incredible step and powerful carry, and they really should have scored moments later from behind a five-metre scrum but somehow managed to lose the ball with the tryline beckoning again as Jesse Kriel could not make the offload to Siya Kolisi.

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Ireland needed a spark and they got it when Bundee Aki sliced through the midfield and barged his way up the field, with only some superb cover defence from the South Africans stopping the move in its tracks.

Ireland weren't done yet, however, and kept coming under several penalty advantages. The Springboks defence withstood the pressure manfully, but eventually the gap opened up out wide, allowing right winger Mack Hansen to crash over in the corner. Sexton added the extras as Ireland took a 7-3 lead.

Meanwhile, the Boks' discipline continued to let them down, preventing them from getting any real rhythm in their game, with the half-time whistle probably arriving just in time.

Unfortunately, the second half started in much the same way as the first, with the Boks giving away a penalty and allowing Ireland some free territory and possession.

When the Boks failed to win a line-out in their own 22, it put the Irish straight back on the attack, but luckily Franco Mostert was able to come up with a superb steal of his own to allow his side an exit.

When the Springboks won a penalty just inside their own half, they opted to give Faf de Klerk a chance to kick for posts. The ball dramatatically stuck the upright to put the Boks on attack, but the Irish managed to effect a great turnover.

It was at this point that the majority of the Bok Bomb Squad made its way onto the pitch, and it didn't take long for South Africa to win a penalty inside the Irish 22, with the Boks opting to take the scrum in the middle of the park.

The Boks won the penalty advantage with a powerful shove but they didn't need it as a beautiful long pass from Libbok to Kolbe saw the speedster go over. Unfortunately, Libbok couldn't convert a very makeable kick but the Boks were back in front.

The Boks were starting to see more of the ball as their forward replacements made their presence felt, but when a scrum penalty went Ireland's way to everyone's surprise, Sexton was able to put them back in front.

The Springboks soon launched another promising attack but it came to naught when De Allende snatched at a pass from Willemse and knocked the ball on, much to the fullback's frustration.

The Boks' new-look front row soon won another penalty as they drove the Irish back, which led to another shot at goal from Libbok, but unfortunately the flyhalf couldn't find the target once again.

Moments later, the Boks won another penalty near the half-way line and again they opted to kick for poles, with De Klerk taking over, but the result was exactly the same - off target - as South African fans' worst fears were realised.

As the match headed into its closing stages, the Boks continued to boss proceedings without being able to turn it into points on the scoreboard, as Ireland continued to hang on for dear life.

When they won another penalty in the Irish 22, they had little choice but to go for the corner, but a mistake at the line-out saw possession turned over - much to the delight of the Irish fans in attendance.

As time was running out for the Boks, a horrible piece of luck saw a random touch from a South African hand gift the Irish a five-metre scrum, and when the Irish were awarded the penalty, it was an easy decision for to kick it over from right in front to put them five points clear.

There was time for one final attack from the Boks but despite the ball coming out of the back of a ruck right on the Irish try-line, referee Ben O'Keeffe decided to blow his whistle, as Ireland hung on for a famous victory.

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