View photosJohnny Sexton kicked the Springboks into touch in Dublin on Saturday evening Credit: REUTERS
Ireland almost had their first try with a smooth backs move straight off the training field, which saw Sexton loop around the back of Robbie Henshaw before putting Conway into open space, who was halted on the Springboks' 22m.
The Munster wing did not have to wait long, though. Murray hoisted a perfect up-and-under from near the 10m line a few minutes later, South Africa’s defenders bungled the catch and Conway plucked the loose ball out of despairing Bok clutches and sprinted home from 25m.
South Africa had 50 per cent possession in the first half but even when they did apply a little pressure, Ireland were able to repel them with relative ease. When Sexton conceded a penalty on the 10m line for a late, no-arms tackle midway through the first half, the Boks opted to kick for the corner rather than goal.
In hindsight, they should have taken the points. Ireland held them out, Furlong managing two tackles in the space of a five seconds at one stage and CJ Stander producing an immense turn-over on the line which won him back-slaps all round. And that was basically that.
South Africa finally got some points on the board a couple of minutes into the second half, but they never really looked like coming back into it.
Ireland saved the best for last, three late tries putting their opponents to the sword. First Rhys Ruddock muscled his way over after Conway’s powerful run down the right flank. Then Rob Herring drove over from a 5m lineout. And finally Stockdale got the try that his muscular performance deserved.
Joey Carbery, on for Sexton, even knocked over the conversion from way out on the touchline.
“The scoreline flattered us a little bit,” said Schmidt. “I grew up watching the Springboks be a pretty dominant team, and I don’t think this Bok team is too far away from that.” It sounded horribly like sympathy from the Kiwi.
Scoring: 3-0 Sexton pen; 6-0 Sexton pen; 9-0 Sexton pen; 14-0 Conway try; 14-3 Jantjies pen; 17-3 Sexton pen; 22-3 Ruddock try; 24-3 Sexton con; 29-3 Herring try; 31-3 Carbery con; 36-3 Stockdale try; 38-3 Carbery con.
Ireland: R Kearney (D Sweetnam 74); A Conway, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton (J Carbery 74), C Murray (K Marmion 70); C Healy (D Kilcoyne 66), R Best (R Herring 66), T Furlong (J Ryan 70-); I Henderson (J Ryan 70), D Toner; P O’Mahony (R Ruddock 50), S O’Brien, CJ Stander.
South Africa: A Coetzee; D Leyds, J Kriel, D de Allende (F Venter 56), C Skosan; E Jantjies (H Pollard 56), R Cronje (R Paige 72); T Mtawarira (S Kitshoff 54), M Marx (B Mbonambi 68), C Oosthuizen (W Louw 2); E Etzebeth (capt), L de Jager (F Mostert 66); S Kolisi (U Cassiem 68), P-S du Toit, F Louw.
Referee: B O’Keeffe (New Zealand).
Francois Louw's reaction
"It's up there with some of the worst defeats. They took massive advantage and you don't want to be chasing a game like that. They kept us under the pump."
"These conditions are a little slippery. At times we handled it right but we were turned over a lot just as we were getting into our attacks."