1 min: Ireland 0-0 South Africa
They are going on in Dublin – this should be a cracker… (hope I didn’t jinx it – apols if I have…)
Ireland are in their bizarre second kit – blue with lime green stripes – and South Africa in their traditional dark green tops.
Conor Murray leads both sides
This is the Irish scrum-half’s 100th cap.
National anthem time and some great national tunes we have. Who doesn’t like Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika? The Irish anthem is just as catchy and sung brilliantly by local audiences.
Ireland have a goal on their back as world number 1
And how would the Springboks like to upset the odds today…
Great stat if you’re Irish, courtesy of Opta Jonny…
Ireland are currently on a nine-game winning streak at home and have conceded just seven points or less in each of their last four home games. only once before have they won more than 10 home matches in a row (12 between November 2016 and November 2018). Fortress.
Johnny Sexton still the talisman
He may be 37, but as his performances in the memorable series win over the All Blacks in New Zealand showed, he is at the top of his game. His kicking game, the variation in his passing game is second to none and he is the key man for this Irish side as he barks orders at those around him.
He faces Damian Willemse today. The South African is 13 years younger than him, has 85 fewer Test caps, 983 fewer Test points and has only started at No.10 twice for the Boks. It could be an interesting game, although Bryan Habana just told us on Amazon Prime that Willemse played fly-half for his school, however, I think the move from school rugby to playing the No.1 team at the world on their territory is quite large…
A one-on-one to watch is…
…Josh van der Flier against Pieter-Steph du Toit. Both back rowers are key men for their teams and if they can get the better of their counterparts it would greatly increase their team’s chances of victory today.
The autumn sun bathes the Aviva
How much will the Irishman miss Robbie Henshaw?
The hosts’ center has been ruled out with injury with in-form Ulster midfielder Stuart McCloskey entering the starting line-up.
McCloskey, 30, will earn his seventh cap since making his debut in 2016. A superb season so far has put him alongside Henshaw, central partner Saturday Garry Ringrose and the suspended Bundee Aki ahead of the FIFA World Cup. next year.
Leinster utility back Jimmy O’Brien could earn his first cap after being added to the bench for the opening Test of the Irish series in November.
how they line up
IRELAND XV WILL FACE SOUTH AFRICA: H Keenan; R Baloucoune, G Ringrose, S McCloskey, M Hansen; J Sexton C Murray; A Porter, D Sheehan, T Furlong, T Beirne, J Ryan, P O’Mahony, J Van Der Flier, C Doris
Replacements: R Herring, C Healy, F Bealham, K Treadwell, J Conan, J Gibson-Park, J Carbery, J O’Brien
SOUTH AFRICA XV AGAINST IRELAND: Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Damian Willemse, Jaden Hendrikse; Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Deon Fourie, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux.
Ireland have three tests to negotiate this autumn: South Africa, Fiji and Australia. But in truth, only one of them will provide a real gauge of their position one year from the World Cup and only one really matters. Yes, you guessed it, it’s this clash against the Springboks.
The No. 1-ranked team takes on the No. 3-ranked XV in a heavyweight encounter that Andy Farrell will want to win to underscore that his team is the one to beat for the title next year.
Ireland come into the test after the memorable and historic series win in New Zealand and with a target on their backs, but confident they can justify their status as the best in the world. A win per se wouldn’t necessarily do that, rather what Farrell will want to see is more evidence that Ireland’s complex phase play can cope with and overpower the Springboks’ top defense, and that the hosts are more than a match for the visitors’ expected onslaught from a set piece.
For South Africa, this test is the first in a series of daunting encounters which, after today’s final whistle, sees them travel to Paris and then Twickenham, with a game against Italy between the two.
Today’s clash, as well as the test against France, will provide an interesting barometer of their World Cup hopes. Losses to two of the favorites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup would not only leave plenty of question marks over their aspirations to win the showpiece, but also put them under huge pressure to beat England on November 26.
Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus will be looking to test the strength of the team in depth over the coming weeks. First-choice fly-half Handre Pollard is ruled out with injury and regular understudy Elton Jantjies is also unavailable. Add to that the fact that experienced utility full-back Francois Steyn, who wore the No.10 shirt when the Springboks beat Argentina in their last Test a month ago, is also injured and it’s clear the tourists will be tested. Damian Willemse will be the man to start at 10, but while that might be seen as less than ideal, that cloud has a silver lining with the news that Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe will be back in the final three. .
Stay here for all the news, analysis and pre-game action – it promises to be a classic autumnal encounter.