Bok errors let them down as Ireland edge it

rugby23 September 2023 20:50
By:Gavin Rich

The penalty they conceded with three minutes to go that enabled Ireland to put some precious daylight between them and the Springboks on the scoreboard just about summed up the night for the World Cup champions as they lost 13-8 in the battle of the titans in Paris.

The Boks were penalised at a scrum in front of their posts as they were trying to overcome a two point deficit.

It was the umpteenth mistake that cost them on a night where frustration would have run high among all South African supporters.

For it was a game where the Boks conspired against themselves, and there really is no other way to put it.

To beat Ireland in this era you have to be clinical, meaning you take the scoring opportunities that come your way, and you have to be disciplined.

The Boks were neither of those - they failed to take advantage of their scoring chances when they came, they missed their kicks at posts, and they just made too many elementary errors.


One kick from the tee from Faf de Klerk did hit the posts, and both his missed attempts were from long range.

But in all 11 points were missed from the tee, with Manie Libbok delivering a strong performance in general play but again missing out on points that he should have slotted - one of them a conversion and the other a very kickable penalty that would have regained the Boks the lead they had surrendered due to them giving away a scrum penalty. Yes, there were a few of those.

In a game so close those kicks were costly. By contrast, Ireland kicked everything and also scored a try the only time they had a proper opportunity.

The break from Bundee Aki that created the field position that led to Mack Hansen’s try after 34 minutes proved crucial to the result.

The Boks had been hammering away at the Irish line not long before that but couldn’t get across to dot down.

Ireland had a half chance and they took it and on a night of such small margins and it made all the difference against a team that appeared determined to shoot itself in the foot.

The win means that Ireland stretch their unbeaten run to 16 matches and while the Boks did succeed in taking them out of their game, with the Irish not able to put together their usual multi-phase game, it is the current world No 1 ranked team that will go forward as the main challengers to hosts France in the battle for the Webb Ellis trophy.


It is the big moments that win World Cups, and Ireland won all of those on the night even though they were under considerable pressure for portions of the game, particularly in the second half.

Although it was a low scoring match, it was a fitting showdown between the No 1 and No 2 ranked teams in the world, with momentum shifting several times during the 80 minutes.

The battle was intense, physical and furious, with neither side prepared to give any ground at the breakdowns.

On the subject of breakdowns, the Irish did get the benefit of the 50/50 calls in that phase of play.

The Irish enjoyed territorial dominance in the first 20 minutes, but were repelled repeatedly in the Bok 22 by the South African lineout.

Indeed, you could say it was the lineout that kept the Boks in the game in that period, with their good contesting preventing Ireland from capitalising inside the South African 22 on four occasions within the first half hour.

By the end of the game South Africa had won six against the throw.

Libbok showed good nerve to kick the first three pointer for his team after six minutes and it remained like that until Hansen scored six minutes before the break.

Siya Kolisi’s team had a great chance to make the difference eight or 10 points around the 20 minute mark and beyond that as they appeared to be gaining momentum.

But then just before the half hour mark came the slipped tackle from Libbok that allowed man of the match Aki to burst through from deep inside his own half.

Suddenly it was no longer the Irish who were under pressure but the Boks. Ireland showed the patience that their opponents didn’t as they maintained the pressure without making the errors that the Boks did so often to their cost when it was them on the attack.

Johnny Sexton took the ball up to within a metre of the Bok line and then a long pass released Hansen for the score that put Ireland into a 7-3 halftime lead.


Early in the second half the trend of the first 40 minutes continued when from the restart the Boks went onto the attack but Eben Etzebeth was penalised and Ireland were able to release the pressure.

The Boks did score on the 50th minute mark when Libbok showed his passing skills in putting Cheslin Koble in for his team’s only try but you did get the feeling that his miss of what should have been an easily kickable conversion would cost his team.

The Boks led by one point instead of three so when Sexton kicked an easy three pointer after an Ireland scrum penalty it was a two point lead to the visitors.

After that it felt like it was the Boks who were doing most of the attacking and applying most of the pressure, but every time momentum was being built it felt like there was a penalty to release the pressure on Ireland.

And then came that last one that just about summed up the night for the Boks.


Ireland 13 - Try: Mack Hansen, Conversion: Johnny Sexton; Penalties: Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne.

South Africa 8 - Try: Cheslin Kolbe; Penalty: Manie Libbok.