Springboks hail “proper test” in World Cup defeat to Ireland

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2023 - Pool B - South Africa v Ireland - Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France - September 23, 2023 South Africa's Siya Kolisi applauds the fans after the match REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

PARIS (Reuters) – South Africa’s lack of accuracy close to the Ireland tryline and off the kicking tee were major contributors to their epic 13-8 loss in a Rugby World Cup Pool B showdown on Saturday and they now face a crunch clash with Tonga to progress from the group.

Ireland were deserved winners and underlined their status as the number one ranked side in the world, able to withstand the Springbok pressure and take the chances they created.

By contrast, South Africa had numerous entries into the Ireland 22 but a mixture of excellent defence and their own inaccuracy proved costly as they slipped to a first World Cup defeat in nine games.

They were also not helped by a missed conversion and penalty from flyhalf Manie Libbok and two missed penalties by scrumhalf Faf de Klerk that meant they left 11 points out there.

“We would have loved to win but it was a great game, an intense game,” Bok captain Siya Kolisi said. “Congrats to them, they played really well. They were able to hold the pressure in the first half and they got the try (through Mack Hansen).

“I am proud of the way we played. I think we left opportunities out there and they also did. It was a great test for us as a group.”

South Africa still have work to do to emerge from the pool as they face Tonga in their final match on Oct. 1 and could be left needing a bonus-point victory. Kolisi believes the battle with Ireland will have hardened them for what is to come.

“This whole pool is exactly what you need going forward, you test yourself against the number one team in the world and it shows what they are capable of. We’ve got Tonga next which is really important,” Kolisi said.

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber, who will move to Irish side Leinster after the World Cup, admits there is now some pressure on their final pool game.

“It was a proper test match. Both teams would learn a lot from this game, the two best teams playing against each other, which is a great test and preparation going forward.

“The pressure is on us to do well against Tonga to get a result so we can get out of our pool.”

(Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Clare Fallon)

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