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Monday 26 September 2016

Series win is now target for Ireland

Ireland's Jared Payne offloads a pass while being tackled
Ireland's Jared Payne offloads a pass while being tackled

South Africa is the land of Christians and lions.

The former can be more difficult to tame then the latter when The Springboks fail to deliver.

There was little in the way of forgiveness for their new coach Allister Coetzee, despite the many mitigating factors at work in Newlands, as Ireland roared loudest to create history.

It certainly looked like it would take divine intervention from on high when CJ Stander saw red for turning his hip into the head of Pat Lambie in mid-air with almost an hour left on the clock.

For sure, it was the last thing the Munster man would have wanted to happen to his personal friend Lambie on return to his homeland.

It put Ireland in a hole and plunged Stander into a personal hell out of which he may not emerge for the remaining two tests as Ireland look to build on their first win in South Africa with a first series win.

The Ireland flanker's hearing into the red card shown by French referee Mathieu Raynal could not be resolved after a lengthy five-hour session, overseen by Australian official Terry Willis yesterday. At least, this would indicate it is not a cut and dried case, as both parties were due to get back down to business in Johannesburg today.

Consequences

"We'd love to have him available, we're going to find out in the next couple of days what, if any, consequences there are from his attempted charge-down," said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

"We'd be delighted to get him back if that's possible. If we don't, this is a 32-man squad.

"There are 32 players working to try and be selected and it means somebody else will step up and fill the breach."

Understandably, Schmidt sided with his man and made the reasonable point that the sanction may have reflected the concussive result of an ugly collision rather than any malicious intent.

"CJ was upset that Pat was hurt as much as he was upset that he had to leave the field," said Schmidt.

"It's one of those thing that happens. I think, sometimes, when there is an injury like that, the consequence is that a card comes out and that was the result."

The very result looked assured when Stander was sent off and then centre Robbie Henshaw was binned for a hit on Elton Jantjes, Lambie's replacement, in the lead-up to Lwazi Mvovo's converted try to make it 13-10 in the 32nd minute.

However, Ireland shored up their Andy Farrell-designed defence and played with ambition in attack to put on 16 points, from Paddy Jackson's boot and Conor Murray's try on the restart.

The Irish were back in front and still there when Jackson's nerveless shot made it a six-point game with three minutes to survive.

The spectre of New Zealand in November 2013 hovered overhead as South Africa got one last shot from Conor Murray's decision to play territory rather than hang onto the football.

"I don't think we flashed back to there, I think we've come a long way since then," said Ireland captain Rory Best.

"There were similarities to it, but for us it was about the way we stood up. It's not easy to come here and win.

"There's a reason no Irish team has ever done it and to do it for just short of 60 minutes with 14 men, it took a lot of character."

It would be so easy for Ireland to fall into the trap of settling for history made. They have won one. They need one more to take the series.

"It's a very special win, to come here and win but we'll see in the next few weeks exactly how special it is in terms of creating history," advised Best.

It is series-on.

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