15. Simon Zebo – 8
A confident performance, Zebo looked comfortable despite his selection out of position. Kicked well and his quick footwork regularly threatened to break the Springbok defence. He linked up well with Tommy Bowe in the first half.
14. Tommy Bowe – 6
Worked hard to stay involved and made few mistakes. Bowe had a quiet second period with hardly any space or opportunity to attack but can be generally pleased with his performance.
13. Keith Earls – 7
Always an elusive runner, Earls looked as likely as anyone in the Irish backline to find a gap. Defensively sound in the 13 shirt but butchered a couple of passes when Ireland had some rare width.
12. Gordon D’Arcy – 6
Punched above his weight against a physically more imposing Springbok backline in the first half, but fell off a few tackles as the tide turned after the break.
11. Andrew Trimble – 5
Fumbled into touch at a crucial period in the match, and generally struggled to make an impact despite his physical attributes.
10. Jonathan Sexton – 7
Won his fly-half battle against Patrick Lambie, but never really had the opportunity to get the backline into full flow. Kicked well from hand and tackled strongly.
9. Conor Murray – 6
Sparked Ireland’s best move of the first half with a quick tap penalty, but hesitated too often with limited quick ball and kicked poorly at times. Replaced after an hour, and will be under pressure for his place with some strong competition at scrum-half.
1. Cian Healy – 8
Healy was solid in the scrum and carried well throughout. He showed superhuman strength to strip the ball from Eben Etzebeth as Ireland defended their line in the second period.
2. Richardt Strauss – 6
Justified his selection with a solid game marred only by some difficulties in the lineout which eventually improved in the closing stages.
3. Mike Ross – 5
Started well securing a solid platform in the scrum, but was replaced after being given a difficult time by his Leinster teammate Heinke van der Merwe in the second half.
4. Mike McCarthy – 8
Thrived in a physical game, in defence and attack every collision was met with absolute commitment. McCarthy did more than enough to justify his selection as a replacement for the injured O’Connell.
5. Donnacha Ryan – 6
Less of a force than his second-row partner, and worked tirelessly against a dominant South African pack with ultimately little reward.
6. Peter O’Mahony – 7
O’Mahony managed to impose his game on the Springboks with some powerful carries alongside a determined defensive effort. Might expect to see a run of games with both Ferris and O’Brien currently sidelined.
7. Chris Henry – 7
This Irish opportunity had been a long time coming for the ever consistent Ulsterman, and he can be pleased with his display on the openside. He provided a welcome balance to the Ireland back-row, making one notable turnover.
8. Jamie Heaslip – 5
Suffered his first defeat as a professional captain having never lost whilst leading Leinster, and will be disappointed to have picked up a crucial and needless yellow card. Otherwise a performance which we know he can improve on.
Replacements – 4
South Africa had significantly greater depth on the bench. Only Fergus McFadden, 58 min, and Eoin Reddan, 61 min, came on with sufficient time to make any impact, but McFadden was largely innocuous. Reddan had a better showing as Ireland attempted to up the pace in the final quarter. David Kilcoyne, Iain Henderson and Michael Bent made debuts, with Bent coming on to steady the scrum and make a couple of storming runs.
By David Blair