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O’Gara inspires historic win

O’Gara inspires historic win

South Africa’s hopes of a first Grand Slam since 1961 lay in tatters at Lansdowne Road on Saturday as Munster fly-half Ronan O’Gara inspired Ireland to a first win over the Springboks in 39 years

South Africa’s hopes of a first Grand Slam since 1961 lay in tatters at Lansdowne Road on Saturday as Munster fly-half Ronan O’Gara inspired Ireland to a first win over the Springboks in 39 years.

Back in 1965, the tourists endured an infamous ‘Black April’, losing 9-6 in Dublin. Today the ‘Boks were left black and White (and red all-over).

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27-year-old O’Gara literally took the ‘Spring’ out of the ‘Boks and perhaps Jake White’s foot out of his mouth, as he score all of his side’s points – including a cheeky tap-and-go try on 21 minutes.

Ireland may have never scored more than 18 points (2000) against South African opposition, but in a titanic tussle, 17 was all that Eddie O’Sullivan needed for his first victory against the ‘Boks in three meetings.

The victory must rank as one of the most important victories of O’Sullivan’s tenure.

Since March 2003 when David Humphreys hit four penalties in a 15-12 Six Nations triumph over France in Dublin, Ireland have played four of the world’s top five sides on eight occasions – winning just once – so this one means a lot.

White’s visitors simply had no answer to the all-action Irish, relying on the right boot of full-back Percy Montgomery – who kicked four penalties from five attempts – to play them back into a pulsating game.

Returning Irish wing Denis Hickie almost glided in on a Shane Horgan pop pass in the early exchanges, but New Zealand referee Paul Honiss – who has famously officiated over Ireland’s last two wins over England, and Brian O’Driscoll’s three-try blitz in Paris four years ago – ruled the pass forward.

O’Gara, perhaps sensing something greater, offered up the chance of a straight shot at goal on 19 minutes as Ireland garnered three close-in penalties from the ‘Boks – with De Wet Barry twice the guilty party.

Ireland’s risk paid off when two minutes later, with Honiss having singled for captain John Smit to talk to his players regarding their infringing, O’Gara took a quick tap to gleefully sprint over from 10 yards.

The Irish number 10’s convert hit the post and with Geordan Murphy producing a heroic ankle-tap on Montgomery minutes later, the home side looked in good shape.

Montgomery did reply from a penalty on 26 minutes, but missed a straight-on second two minutes later from further out.

That proved crucial as Ireland’s barracking play, combined with IRB World Player of the year nominee Schalk Burger’s sin-binning in the second half, kept Irish noses in front.

Salt was rubbed into South African wounds on 34 minutes as O’Gara showed pin-point accuracy to drop a 35-metre goal.

A five-point (8-3) lead at the break was buffered by O’Gara’s first penalty success three minutes after the restart.

Although Wales-based Montgomery quickly replied, two further strikes from O’Gara, the first on 52 minutes with Burger off the field for killing the ball on the deck, and the second with sixteen minutes remaining.

Burger’s second sin-binning in the space of seven days would have done little for White’s blood pressure as his side looked increasingly like suffering their first defeat since July.

A late tackle on ever-ready Irish skipper Brian O’Driscoll had summoned up O’Gara’s second penalty and an impressive 17-6 home lead, but as expected the ‘Boks mounted a comeback.

With Burger returning to the fray and CJ van der Linde beefing up the front row, South Africa garnered two late penalties, both kicked with aplomb by Montgomery, but with time running out and Ireland’s defence resolute – five points was as close as they got.

15 – G Dempsey
14 – G Murphy
13 – B O’Driscoll (Capt)
12 – S Horgan
11 – D Hickie
10 – R O’Gara
9 – P Stringer
1 – R Corrigan
2 – S Byrne
3 – J Hayes
4 – M O’Kelly
5 – P O’Connell
6 – S Easterby
7 – J O’Connor
8 – A Foley

16 – F Sheahan
17 – M Horan
18 – D O’Callaghan
19 – E Miller
20 – G Easterby
21 – D Humphreys
22 – K Maggs

Subs used:
M Horan for Corrigan (69 mins),
E Miller for O’Connor (75)

15 – P Montgomery
14 – B Paulse
13 – M Joubert
12 – De Wet Barry
11 – A Willemse
10 – J van der Westhuyzen
9 – F Du Preez
1 – O Du Randt
2 – J Smit (Capt)
3 – E Andrews
4 – B Botha
5 – V Matfield
6 – S Burger
7 – AJ Venter
8 – J van Niekerk

16 – H Shimange
17 – CJ van der Linde
18 – G Britz
19 – D Rossouw
20 – M Claassens
21 – J de Villiers
22 – J Fourie

Subs used:
G Britz for Burger (16-23 mins),
CJ van der Linde for Andrews (71)

Attendance: 48,000
HT: Ireland 8 South Africa 3
Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand)

Scoring Sequence:

21 minutes: Ireland try – Ronan O’Gara – 5-0
26: South Africa penalty – Percy Montgomery – 5-3
33: Ireland drop goal – O’Gara – 8-3
HT: Ireland 8 South Africa 3
43: Ireland penalty – O’Gara – 11-3
46: South Africa pen – Montgomery – 11-6
52: South Africa sin-bin – Schalk Burger (killing the ball)
53: Ireland pen – O’Gara – 14-6
64: Ireland pen – O’Gara – 17-6
68: South Africa pen – Montgomery – 17-9
74: South Africa pen – Montgomery – 17-12