South Africa v Ireland: how Andy Farrell’s side rated in Pretoria defeat

15 – Jamie Osborne Welcome to the Big Time, Jamie. It was an eventful debut for the 22-year-old. Watched helplessly as Springbok try-scorer, wing, Kurt-Lee Arendse, flashed by him in third minute but recovered so well to catch the eye. Promising. 8 

14 – Calvin Nash Struggled to make a mark. The wing didn’t manage to feature as often as he would have wanted, not managing to work his way into any telling positions. 5 

13 – Robbie Henshaw Dependable and reliable as ever but not able to influence proceedings in his usual bullish manner. Took a pounding and replaced at the interval. 6 

12 – Bundee Aki A heavy-duty afternoon at the coal-face. Aki was in the thick of the action as the bruising Springbok centres came steaming down his channel. Held his ground in a punishing encounter, carrying a knock to his arm.

11 – James Lowe An all-rounder and never out of the game, standing firm in the tackle on the touchline to off-load infield for Osborne try. Denied a 60metre opportunistic try, then undone trying to keep play alive for Kolbe try. On the ball even if flawed. 7 

10Jack Crowley A decent effort. One big goal-kicking blob offset by some commendable playmaking, flashing the ball wide for the first try, hearty in defence but kicking from hand occasionally off-kilter. 7 

9 – Craig Casey Under pressure throughout but endured well until taking a sickening bang to the head on the hour mark. The Munster scrum-half had had to fight off suffocating fringe Springbok defence but persevered and kicked well. 8 

1 – Andrew Porter A conspicuous asset at the scrum and handled the meaty Springbok front-row well. A grafter in open play, too, gave away a couple of silly penalties but returned after a hand injury to play his part. 7 

2 – Dan Sheehan Battled manfully. Sheehan needed heavy strapping on his leg after half an hour but that was not enough to prevent him from playing a major role in the Osborne try. Had to be subbed at half-time though. 6 

3 – Tadhg Furlong Shoulder to the wheel. Furlong did his utmost to help keep the Ireland scrum steady and influential even though he was up against formidable opposition. 6

4 – Joe McCarthy A nuisance even though living off scraps. There was the usual fighting spirit on display from the Leinster lock but some of Ireland’s lineout play was scruffy. 6 

5 – Tadhg Beirne Grew in stature. It was a fierce contest throughout, all the more so when the entire Springbok Bomb Squad came on together, but Beirne did not wilt, refusing to cede ground.

6 – Peter O’Mahony There were a few occasions when Ireland’s decision-making was suspect, taking taps rather than points. Ireland’s flankers nowhere near as prominent as their opposite numbers, Kolisi and du Toit. 5 

7 – Josh van der Flier Battled to get a toe-hold and never gave up, scavenging and foraging for whatever was on offer, keeping pressure on the opposition breakdown and winning an important second-half turnover. 7 

8 – Caelan Doris Hearty and willing. It was so important that Doris made his usual all-consuming contributions and the Leinster no.8 was busy and meddlesome at the breakdown. A key presence. 8 

Replacements 

The bench was primed to play a significant role after Ireland’s first-half difficulties and they were into action immediately with Ronan Kelleher and Garry Ringrose summoned during the half-time break. Both featured well in the second-half. Ireland stayed in the game through the use of their replacements even though they were hanging on for dear life at times. Kelleher led the forward charge ably assisted by the likes of Ryan and Baird although the hooker’s throwing was picked off from time to time. The bench finally had its day when three players, Finlay Bealham, Kelleher and Murray combined for hope-flickering try before yellow for Kelleher at the late penalty try. Baird 79th minute try made for frantic finish. 7

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