Rugby World Cup: Ireland too good for South Africa in pulsating match in Paris - Sky
At Stade de France, Paris: Ireland 13 (Mack Hansen try; Johnny Sexton con, pen, Jack Crowley pen) South Africa 8 (Cheslin Kolbe try; Manie Libbok pen). HT: 7-3
The All Blacks' potential World Cup quarterfinal opponent has probably been determined after Ireland beat South Africa 13-8 in their Pool B match in Paris on Sunday morning (NZT).
If the All Blacks secure victories in their remaining pool games against Italy and Uruguay, they will likely qualify second in Pool A behind France and play Ireland in the sudden-death game at Stade de France in Paris on October 16.
The absorbing contest between Ireland and the Springboks, who are listed first and second respectively in the World Rugby rankings, should've left the All Blacks in little doubt of what's required if they're to advance beyond the quarterfinal.
Matching the physicality of the Springboks will be paramount on the evidence of the intense encounter between the two super heavyweights from either side of the equator.
The scrimmages at the breakdown offered the All Blacks an insight into how important it would be to protect ball carriers when confronted with repeat sets of waves of big men arriving to pillage possession.
The Springboks won the aerial battle in the lineouts, plundering 12 of 18 Ireland's throws, but in the end it was the Six Nations title holders who prevailed in front of around 82,000 boisterous fans.
Ireland right wing Mack Hansen scored the first try of the match in the 33rd minute, while left wing Cheslin Kolbe scampered over for the Springboks in the 51st.
Despite the paucity of tries, no-one would have departed the arena complaining about the lack of entertainment.
This was an encounter as intense as a World Cup final. Ireland extended their lead in the 77th minute when replacement first five-eighth Jack Crowley kicked a regulation penalty in front of the posts, but the Irish had to endure a frantic fightback before celebrating victory.
The Springboks launched one last desperate attempt to score off a lineout drive in the final seconds, but came unstuck when referee Ben O'Keeffe deemed they had turned the ball over.
The best player for Ireland was Bundee Aki, the bruising midfielder creating chaos whenever he got the ball.
The Springboks were left to rue a lack of accuracy off the tee, with Faf de Klerk missing two penalty attempts and Manie Libbok also spraying the ball wide with one of his shots.
Ireland took a long lap of honour, and joined in when their fans took over singing the Cranberries' “Zombie” being broadcast over the stadium speakers.
Ireland began the tournament with an 82-8 rout of Romania and followed up by dispatching Tonga 59-16.
Momentum is building nicely and Scotland is next in two weeks.
South Africa started by beating Scotland 18-3, then blanked Romania 76-0, and concludes its pool round against Tonga next Sunday.
Scotland, who have played one game, will meet Tonga on Monday morning (NZT).