Feted as the best team in the world last month after beating the All Blacks, South Africa will pitch up at Twickenham next weekend with a bad hangover from their trip to Dublin.
Beaten by 14 points Heyneke Meyer’s team had only themselves to blame after the Irish refused to wilt under an early Springbok onslaught. Tries from flanker Rhys Ruddock and the Lions winger Tommy Bowe settled it in the second half.
Knock-ons, continual turnovers and a lack of control from Handre Pollard, the 20-year-old fly-half, meant that South Africa never looked like profiting from set-piece dominance.
Ireland spent most of the first half surviving between their own 22 and five-metre lines but a succession of errors by the Springboks left them 6-3 behind at the interval after two penalties by Johnny Sexton.
Jonathan Sexton was in fine form at the Aviva Stadium
The turning point came after the restart when a long punt by Robbie Henshaw brought a lineout near the visitors’ line from which Rhys Ruddock went over. Sexton converted.
With Ireland leading 13-3 the Boks powered a line-out drive through the Irish defence allowing Marcel Coetzee to touch down and Pollard to convert. Sexton made the lead nine points with two penalties.
With 10 minutes left a lovely cross-field kick put Bowe over for Ireland’s second try. JP Pietersen’s late try only glossed the scoresheet for a very lame looking bunch of Boks.
Ireland: R Kearney (F Jones, 73); T Bowe, J Payne (E Reddan, 78), R Henshaw, S Zebo; J Sexton (I Madigan, 73), C Murray; J McGrath (R Ah You, 73), S Cronin (R Strauss, 57), M Ross (D Kilcoyne, 73), D Toner (M McCarthy, 73), P O’Connell, P O’Mahony (T O’Donnell, 70), J Heaslip, R Ruddock.
South Africa: W Le Roux; C Hendricks (JP Pietersen, 49), J Serfointein, J De Villiers, B Habana; H Pollard (P Lambie, 66), F Hougaard (J Reinach, 56); T Mtawarira (T Nyakane, 66), B Du Plessis (A Strauss, 50), J Du PLessis (C Ooosthuizen, 70), E Etzebeth (B Botha, 64), V Matfield, M Coetzee, D Vermeulen, T Mohoje (S Burger, 46).