A combination of Irish intensity and South African blundering produced a famous 32-15 victory for the home side.
This result forebodes an almighty struggle for the Bokâ€™s upcoming series against England.
Playing for one of the last times at Lansdowne Road, Irelandâ€™s authoritative display sent thousands of home supporters into rapture, the final whistle bringing the Dublinites to their feet in appreciation. The temperature was low, but the mood was undoubtedly lifted by a complete performance that sees the Emerald Greens move to the next rung on the ladder of world dominance.
While the rain stayed away until the 70th minute and the wind was not as prominent as initially expected, the anticipated Irish intensity at the breakdown reigned supreme. The Boks coughed up possession on numerous occasions whilst in the opposition 22, and although they did not have a lot of ball in the first half, they squandered what little opportunities they were afforded.
Flankers David Wallace and Neil Best were efficient in spoiling a lot of South African ball, and so the visitors were never able to establish any rhythm. The Ireland pack negated the Boks drive off the line-out, and the â€˜monsterâ€™ pack that had been hyped up all week were duly outmuscled by their wilier Celtic counterparts. The Irish showed a tenacity that was never equaled, the fight on the floor sapping both the energy and confidence of the visitors.
The first half began well for South Africa, with 19 year old Francois Steyn stepping confidently off his wing to make a few extra metres. The many South Africans who had made the long trip to Dublin were well audible when flyhalf Andre Pretorius knocked over the gameâ€™s first penalty.
The romance of wearing a jersey similar to that of the 1906 Springboks seemed to be rubbing off on the players. However, this was the only time the Boks will look back at that first forty minutes with any sense of pleasure.
The immediate Irish response was a sign of things to come. Despite a strong scrum by the Boks, Ireland No 8 Denis Leamy was able to gain a lot of momentum off the back, bumping off the feeblest of tackle attempts by opposite number Pierre Spies. The ball flew wide and found Andrew Trimble cutting in from the opposite wing. Trimble shrugged off replacement scrumhalf Ruan Pienaarâ€™s defensive effort and crossed the white wash for the first of Irelandâ€™s four tries: a record against the Boks.
Ronan Oâ€™Garaâ€™s command of the home backline was exemplary, and his control through clever in-field kicks outstanding. South African fullback Bevin Fortuin was made to look silly at times, with Oâ€™Garaâ€™s deft chips and prods finding space and spinning him around on several occasions. The Free Stater did not have the best debut, with his own kicking lacking consistency.
The Springbok backs lacked cohesion as a unit, and communication was poor both on defence and attack. Too many times a South African defender shot out of alignment, which in turn made it all too easy for the experienced Irish midfield to cut them to shreds.
The few linebreaks that were made by the visitors were poorly supported, and typified the Bokâ€™s night. They had the individuals to win this match, but the ultimate test was always going to be in how they gelled and fired as a collective. Steyn and Bryan Habana both scored tries in the second half, but the Boks never looked like taking the game away from the hosts.
Needless to say, Jake White will be making wholesale renovations to the wreck that is his current squad. To judge on tonightâ€™s indifferent effort from the tourists, the elusive victory at Twickenham seems to be slipping further out of reach.
By Jon Cardinelli, in Dublin