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23rd Sep 2023

Ireland vs. Springboks: All the biggest moments, talking points and player ratings

Patrick McCarry

Ireland player ratings

A real clash of the titans, at Stade de France.

Andy Farrell’s men beat South Africa 13-8 in another epic World Cup Pool B match, in Paris. We will have all the biggest moments, talking points and full Ireland player ratings in our live feed [below].

On Thursday, Farrell named an Ireland team that is close full-strength, with hooker Dan Sheehan now back in the matchday 23 and Jack Crowley backing up Johnny Sexton. The reigning world champions have a stacked XV and have gone for a 7:1 bench split.

Ireland found themselves 3-0 down and under lots of first half pressure but led at the break when Mack Hansen scored a converted try. Cheslin Kolbe scored after the break but penalties from Sexton and Crowley sealed the win.


Hugo Keenan – 7

Lovely carry nearly led to a try, after 15 minutes. Didn’t have it all his own way in the aerial battles.

Mack Hansen – 7

Brave aerial take under big pressure. Stayed wide and patient for his try.

Garry Ringrose – 6

Lovely footwork and awareness to set up a great attack up the left flank. Caught on the hop when de Klerk’s penalty struck the post. Was in the wars – shot up on a few attacks to cause chaos.

Bundee Aki – 8.5

Turned over by Kolbe on a carry into the Bok 22. Made an electric line break that had the Boks in all sorts of trouble. Was superb when he got the legs pumping. Penalised inside his 22, after 48 minutes.

James Lowe – 8

Caught out by an awkward bounce and was left with a flailing tackle. Made a crucial first half poach for a turnover. Made another turnover, off du Toit, under the Irish posts. Won another turnover when he LIFTED Etzebeth in the tackle.

Johnny Sexton – 7

Took some crunching hits and received treatment but stayed on to take more punishment. Brave in defence. Lasted 72 minutes and will need that week off!

Jamison Gibson-Park – 7

Showed real fight in a scrappy, wild night at the breakdown. Missed four of his six tackles attempted.

Andrew Porter – 8

Gave away an early scrum penalty. Got his own back on Malherbe to win a big penalty in front of the posts. Played 75 minutes!

Rónan Kelleher – 5

Walloping statement hit on Willemse to set the tone. Lineout was wobbling, early on. Overthrew THREE in the first 12 minutes. Jumpers not getting up an issue but this is on him, too.

Tadhg Furlong – 6

Pinged for early engagement at one scrum. In one hell of a battle.

Tadhg Beirne – 7

Won a turnover but let the ball slip, soon after. Was apologising again, in the second half, when Smith turned him over on a carry. Pinged for breaking his bind at a maul. Great clearing kick upfield in the closing stages.

James Ryan – 6

The early line out wobbles would be partly on his shoulders, as he made the calls, too. Got isolated on a second half carry and was turned over.

Peter O’Mahony – 7

Penalised at the breakdown when Ireland were under the pump. Got up well to force a bit lineout wobble in the Bok 22.

Josh van der Flier – 7

Put in a huge shift against the Bok forwards and was up there with Doris atop the tackle count. Conceded one penalty for being offside. Great tackles on Willemse and Kriel in the final 10.

Caelan Doris – 8

Got in a passing line to secure a turnover from Kriel near his tryline. Made some good front-foot carries and was a tackling demon.

Dan Sheehan (for Kelleher ’54) – 6
Iain Henderson (for Ryan ’54) – 6
Told Crowley to go for that late penalty.
Robbie Henshaw (for Ringrose ’62) – 7
Ryan Baird (for O’Mahony ’62) – 6
Finlay Bealham (for Furlong ’62) – 6
Conor Murray (for JGP ’65) – 7
Made a breakdown poach after he came on. Another big tackle of du Toit.
Jack Crowley (for Sexton ’71) – 7
Had a late DG blocked but Ireland ended up with a 5-m scrum.
Dave Kilcoyne (for Porter ’75) – N/A

Click on the key point you want to read about, or just keep scrolling to see updates in our live hub.

Ireland player ratings

Match preview and past Ireland player ratings

“It’s right up there,” said Paul O’Connell when he was asked about the magnitude of Ireland vs. South Africa.

“Obviously we have known our pool opponents for quite some time, so there’s been plenty of chat about it and days where we’ve had a particular focus on teams within the pool, to figure out what they’re about and what we need to be on that day. The fact we’ve known for a little longer means you have more time, but it’s not been massively different.

“One thing you can’t do on these occasions is move away from how you prepare and what you stand for. You have to tweak things a little bit so you are ready for the opposition, for sure, but one of our big strengths is understanding what we’re about and how we go about delivering that. It’s hard enough every week ensuring we deliver what we stand for. We do focus on the opposition but not as much as you might think.”

Looking back at our Ireland player ratings for the warm-up games and that RWC opener, it gives us an idea of who is in form and who could do with a big performance.

Jacob Stockdale, who did not make the final squad, and Caelan Doris were the top performers in the warm-up win over Italy. Against England, Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Tadhg Beirne and Josh van der Flier were the top dogs. Hansen did well against Samoa, along with Ryan Baird and Conor Murray.

In the Romania game, Keenan, Bundee Aki, Johnny Sexton and Joe McCarthy all scored 8/10s. Against Tonga, Johnny Sexton and Mack Hansen both scored 9/10 while James Ryan, Andrew Porter and Bundee Aki all got 8s.


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