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Ireland 'punished' by South Africa - O'Mahony

Jesse Kriel and Robbie Henshaw
South Africa held off a late Irish fightback in Pretoria to win a thrilling Test [Getty Images]

Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony says his side were punished by World Cup winners South Africa in a thrilling first Test in Pretoria.

The back-to-back world champions defeated the back-to-back Six Nations champions by 27-20 in a fierce and physical encounter.

After a first win over Ireland in eight years, the Springboks will look to seal the series in the second Test in Durban on Saturday.

Ireland, meanwhile, will look to salvage a draw with just a second victory ever on South African soil.

"It was a tough battle and we knew it was going to be very difficult with the quality of South Africa," O'Mahony told Sky Sports.

Kurt-Lee Arendse's early try and the boot of Handre Pollard gave the Springboks a 13-8 half-time lead over the Irish, whose try came from debutant Jamie Osborne.

Wing James Lowe had a try disallowed before Cheslin Kolbe extended the hosts' advantage midway through the second half.

Conor Murray's late score kept Ireland in touch, but a penalty try with 90 seconds remaining was enough to hold on to the win despite Ryan Baird's last-gasp consolation.

O'Mahony said that there were "positives" for Ireland to take in the defeat but his side would analyse where they could improve ahead of the second Test in Durban.

"There are a lot of positives to take out of our performance but little bits here and there, playing against a side as good as this, they are going to punish you.

"We'll go and have a look, fix a few things and look forward to next week."