Ireland 15 South Africa 10

Ireland earned a famous 15-10 win over world champions South Africa yesterday afternoon at Croke Park. Rookie out-half Jonathon Sexton scored five penalties to ensure that the Grand Slam winners are unbeaten in 2009.

The Ireland team contained nine Lions who played against the Springboks during the summer adding an extra level of tension to a game billed as a showdown between the Six Nations and Tri-Nations champions.

However, it looked as if it would be a long afternoon for the 80,000 Irish fans packed into Croke Park when Schlak Burger evaded the home side's defensive line to score the game's only try on 16 minutes. Sexton replied with a penalty but Morne Steyn landed a drop goal to give South Africa a 10-3 lead at the break.

The Springboks, however, without talismanic second-row Bakkies Botha, struggled to match the Irish line-out and found themselves on the defensive for large parts of the game. Steyn, so accurate with the boot against the Lions during the summer, struggled to get to grips with the misty and freezing conditions spurning a number of penalty kicks.

South Africa appeared to run out of ideas and resorted to launching garryowens in the direction of Ireland fullback Rob Kearney. But the Leinster player, named man of the match, was rock solid under the highball and launched a number of incisive counterattacks.

While Steyn struggled to find his kicking range Sexton managed to keep his composure and kick Ireland into the lead after a twenty-minute period of repeated pressure in the South African half.

The visitors launched one final attack with Tendai Mtawarira stopped just metres short of the Irish line. The ball was recycled quickly and Zane Kirchner found some space only to be nailed by Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll and seal a famous win for Ireland.

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