IRELAND U-19 5 SOUTH AFRICA U-19 31, Ravenhill (Attendance: 9,605)
Scorers: Ireland U-19: Try: Paddy Brophy
South Africa U-19: Tries: Frederick Kirsten, Vainon Willis 2, Stefan Watermeyer, Stephan Dippenaar; Cons: Stefan Watermeyer 3
Friday the 13th provided plenty of hazards for McAleese's young charges as they came up against a physically imposing South African side.
The Baby 'Boks are all out to improve on their country's disappointing eighth-place finish in Dubai last year, and they stamped their authority on this game in the opening half.
The white-shirted visitors opened the scoring in the 19th-minute, getting within range thanks to a lineout mal and prop Frederick Kirsten was the player to get the touch down.
Centre Stefan Watermeyer fired over the conversion and he also added the extras when winger Vainon Willis struck for South Africa's second try, just four minutes later.
Behind a powerful pack, Willis and full-back Wilton Pietersen proved themselves to be lively strike runners and the former got over for his score after an Irish defence, sucked in by some midfield surges from the South African forwards, had been stretched.
Ireland, led superbly again by the industrious Paul Ryan, did have their moments and did well to go in at the break just 14-0 down. Some defiant defence and the eye-catching running of winger Paddy Brophy and full-back Jamie Smith gave the excellent home crowd hope for the second half.
The deficit might have been cut before the break but out-half Scott Deasy was wayward with a penalty attempt. Deasy had almost created a try opening for new winger Alan Gaughan, just minutes earlier, with a neat chip kick.
The South Africans stretched further ahead just when it looked like Ireland had an avenue back into the game. The hosts lost momentum and possession at a close-in lineout and the 'Boks launched a stunning counter attack.
Replacement Yaasir Hartzenberg sent his captain Gerrit van Velze off on an defence splitting run and he, in turn, found the supporting Watermeyer who had enough power and pace to make the line, allowing his side to go 21-0 ahead.
But Ireland can take great credit from the way they battled back and they were rewarded almost immediately with a try in the left corner from St. Michael's flyer Brophy, who did well to beat his opposite man and scamper over. Deasy's conversion attempt faded off to the left.
Regaining their superiority up front, South Africa managed to grab two more tries, clinching a bonus point which helped them confirm their place in the top four play-offs.
Willis muscled over for his second try of the night and a last-minute breakaway saw centre Stephan Dippenaar also cross the home side's whitewash.
The defeat sent Ireland down to ninth in the final pool stage table and sets up a play-off clash for them against Japan on Tuesday (Shaw's Bridge, kick-off 7.30pm).
TIME LINE: 19 minutes - South Africa try: Frederick Kirsten - 0-5; conversion: Stefan Watermeyer - 0-7; 23 mins - South Africa try: Vainon Willis - 0-12; conversion: Stefan Watermeyer - 0-14; Half-time - Ireland 0 South Africa 14; 41 mins - South Africa try: Stefan Watermeyer - 0-19; conversion: Stefan Watermeyer - 0-21; 45 mins - Ireland try: Paddy Brophy - 5-21; conversion: missed by Scott Deasy - 5-21; 67 mins - South Africa try: Vainon Willis - 5-26; conversion: missed by Stefan Watermeyer - 5-26; 70 mins - South Africa try: Stephan Dippenaar - 5-31; conversion: missed by Stefan Watermeyer - 5-31; Full-time - Ireland 5 South Africa 31
IRELAND: Jamie Smith; Alan Gaughan, Eoin O'Malley, Murray Kinsella, Paddy Brophy; Scott Deasy, Harry McAleese; Paul Karayiannis, Stephen Douglas, Patrick McCabe, David Foley, Ian Nagle, Kieran Essex, Rajan Reilly, Paul Ryan (capt).
Replacements used: Patrick Mallon for Reilly (45 mins), Ian Leonard for Karayiannis, Michael Sherry for Douglas (both 47), Jason Harris-Wright for Essex (49), Kris Greene for McAleese (50), Niall Morris for Kinsella (52). Not used: Matthew Nelson, Brian Cawley, Tommy Seymour, Adam Craig, Conor Cleary.
SOUTH AFRICA: Wilton Pietersen; Vainon Willis, Stephan Dippenaar, Stefan Watermeyer, Bernado Botha; Francois Brummer, Francois Hougaard; Jean-Jacques Rossouw, Henri Bantjes, Frederick Kirsten, Cornell Hess, Martin Muller, Thiliphaut Marole, Johan van Deventer, Gerrit van Velze (capt).
Replacements used: Yaasir Hartzenberg for Marole (half-time), Pieter Janse Van Vuuren for Bantjes (39), Earl-Jivan Snyman for Dippenaar (55-62), Corne Fourie for Rossouw (57), Aubrey McDonald for Brummer (64), Snyman for Willis (65), Wiehahn Herbst for Kirsten (69), Sobelo Nhlapo for Hess, Berend Botha for van Deventer (both 70). Not used: Marlin Ruiters, Mlindazwe Nqoro, Tshepo Masuga.
Referee: Matt Stanish (New Zealand)
Touch Judges: Jerome Garces (France), Joao Mourinha (Portugal)