Cape Town – Ireland manage to hold out with just 14 men for nearly an hour when they beat South Africa for the first time in South Africa on Saturday.
Joe Schmidt’s troops were reduced to 14 men following a red card being shown to the South African-born CJ Stander after he collided with Springbok fly-half Pat Lambie in the 23rd minute.
The visitors were made to tackle and remain clinical on defence right until the end which saw the Springboks test their tackling discipline when JP Pietersen nearly went over the whitewash in injury time.
Ireland backs Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw and Paddy Jackson made sure the 26-20 scoreline remained intact which saw Ireland secure their first win in South Africa against the Springboks.
Captain, Rory Best, was a key player in the brave defensive effort which kept the home side from reducing Ireland’s lead.
The inspirational Best did not, however,finish the game as he was replaced by Sean Cronin late in the second half as a precautionary measure.
“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,” Best told The42.ie.
“For me, as captain of this 32-man squad, it wasn’t just the XV that took the field or the guys that made an impact, I think you tell a lot about the individuals that you have at your disposal by what they do when they’re faced with a bit of adversity.
“There was no real panic whenever we went down, we knew it was going to be incredibly tough but what a way to make history, by having to do something special.
Best admitted their opponents’ physicality pushed and stretched them beyond their own limits.
“We sort of knew we had to keep going at them and at them, because if you sit back against the Springboks and try to soak them, it’s just not going to work; they’re too big, too physical,too good a rugby team.
“So we knew we had to keep going at them and it’s a credit to a man, the guys who came in off the bench, they really did that.”
The Ulsterman praised his teammates not only for the efforts to record this historic win but that it was managed with just 14 men against the two-time world champions.
“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,” he added.
“Whether it’s a one-off or whether we can go on and clinch a series, to win any game when you’re faced with going down to 14 men is special and to do it here, with everything, it’s a special game, a special performance.”