Ireland vs South Africa Preview


This Saturday at 5.30pm Ireland face a huge South African side in what is set to be a very physical test for this Irish team. This game promises to be one of the matches of the autumn; not so much in terms of quality but certainly as a measurement of Ireland’s progression halfway through the World Cup cycle.

There are three key areas where the game will be won or lost. The most important is the tight five battle. The traditional narrative around the South African teams is that their strength lies with the pack, where they pick their biggest players and try to run through the opposition. The team picked for Saturday will be no different.

The halfbacks is an area of strength for the Irish, unless up against Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett. For South Africa, their Scrum Half Ross Cronje is a smart player, and has built up a strong partnership with his club teammate Elton Jantjies. Jantjies is a good, attack minded out half at super rugby level, but can be found out at international level. Expect the Irish back row to put him under serious pressure and I have to say that Ireland have a serious edge in this area with the settled and superb pairing of Murray and Sexton.

The final area which will have a big impact on who emerges victorius will be the outside centre channel. All the talk will be about Bundee Aki starting at inside centre, but more importantly to the Irish cause will be Robbie Henshaw’s defence of the outside channels. Normally the defensive leader with Leinster at 12, Henshaw has been burnt on the outside a few time in recent weeks with a 13 on his back. This will be a test of his defensive skills if South Africa use their outside backs’ pace against him, especially as Henshaw’s help will be Stockdale and Conway – both inexperienced at this level.

Predicted score: Ireland 24 South Africa 17


15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Conway
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Iain Henderson
5. Devin Toner
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Sean O’Brien
8. CJ Stander


16. Rob Herring
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. John Ryan
19. James Ryan
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Joey Carbery
23. Darren Sweetnam

South Africa

15. Andries Coetzee (Lions)
14. Dillyn Leyds (Stormers)
13. Jesse Kriel (Bulls)
12. Damian de Allende (Stormers)
11. Courtnall Skosan (Lions)
10. Elton Jantjies(Lions)
9. Ross Cronje (Lions)

1. Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)
2. Malcolm Marx (Lions)
3. Coenie Oosthuizen (Sharks)
4. Eben Etzebeth Capt. (Stormers)
5. Lood de Jager (Bulls)
6. Siya Kolisi (Stormers)
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers)
8. Francois Louw (Bath)


16. Bongi Mbonambi (Stormers)
17. Steven Kitshoff (Stormers)
18. Wilco Louw (Stormers)
19. Franco Mostert (Lions)
20. Uzair Cassiem (Cheetahs)
21. Rudy Paige (Bulls)
22. Handré Pollard (Bulls)
23. Francois Venter (Cheetahs)