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World champions South Africa edge Ireland in first Test

South Africa (13) 27

Try: Arendse, Kolbe, Penalty try Con: Pollard 2 Pen: Pollard 2

Ireland (8) 20

Try: Osborne, Murray, Baird Con: Crowley Pen: Crowley

South Africa underlined their status as the best side in the game with victory over Ireland in Pretoria.

The Test between the top two sides in the world rankings was edged by the World Champions who beat Ireland for a first time in eight years.

Kurt-Lee Arendse had opened the scoring with a try after just three minutes for a Springbok side who notably injected plenty of width into their game throughout.

Irish debutant Jamie Osborne responded with a score of his own before half-time and the game finished with a flurry of four tries in the final 15 minutes.

The sixth time in the last seven meetings that these sides played out a one-score game, South Africa deserved their victory having led for virtually all of the contest.

Ireland will look to salvage a series split, and just a second ever win on South African soil, in Durban next week.

New coaches make early impression for Boks

In their first home Test since lifting the World Cup at the Stade de France nine months ago, Rassie Erasmus was able to name a starting side that boasted 12 players who had also started that final victory over the All Blacks in Paris, while the three exceptions had all came off the bench.

After fielding a more unfamiliar side when beating Wales last month, this was certainly a return to the core of the cast that won that fourth Webb Ellis last autumn.

Indeed, there has arguably been more change in the coaching box than on the field for South Africa.

Former Japan assistant Tony Brown has come on board as the side's attack coach, with Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam winner Jerry Flannery now responsible for defence.

Brown's stamp was all over the opening try, with the Springboks working the ball from one side to the other before Siya Kolisi's pass released Kurt-Lee Arendse into space.

The Bulls winger, playing on his home ground in Pretoria, stepped inside Jamie Osborne to round out a sharp team try after just three minutes.

A mistake from number 8 Kwagga Smith on the restart gave Ireland the opportunity to immediately test Flannery's defensive structures but, after a couple of physical interventions from former Munster centre Damian de Allende, the hosts would force the knock on.

Irish absentees loom large in error strewn opening

Ireland were without Jamison Gibson-Park, Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Jack Conan and Iain Henderson for a variety of reasons.

In their absence, Farrell opted for a pair of bold selection calls, inserting Jamie Osborne, usually a centre, into Keenan's full-back role, while Craig Casey was picked at nine ahead of the vastly experienced Conor Murray. Osborne was unsurprisingly tested aerially early on and, in what was an otherwise composed first cap, would fumble one clearing kick from Cheslin Kolbe into touch.

In truth, the Six Nations champions' error count was simply too high across the board in the opening half hour, with the visitors falling 13-3 behind as Handre Pollard punished some indiscipline from the tee.

Being made to work hard for every yard of ground gained, they would drag themselves back into the contest through a fine try from debutant Osborne.

Created by a brilliantly inventive offload from hooker Dan Sheehan, James Lowe had to show both strength and agility to get his pass away before being thumped into touch and Osborne did well to hold the ball and finish.

Farrell's men will have wanted much more out of their opening 40 but, even with their mistakes, they would trail by just five at the turn, with that score holding for the first 25 minutes of the second half.

Close calls against Lowe prove crucial

Ireland will have stressed the need to tidy things up at the break but were quickly on the backfoot when Bundee Aki was pinged at the breakdown. The Connacht centre admonishing himself after the whistle told its own story.

With half an hour remaining, Rassie Erasmus called upon his famed 'Bomb Squad' from the bench, although their first involvement saw Ireland earn a scrum penalty.

Despite the continued narrow nature of their advantage, it was still the Boks applying the vast majority of the pressure with some timely interventions from the likes of Caelan Doris and Josh van der Flier keeping Ireland in touch.

That defensive work felt briefly all the more crucial when, after the ball squirmed from a ruck spoiled by Aki, Lowe fended off Pollard and ran in for a try.

The TMO, however, correctly intervened to chalk off the score after spotting replacement hooker Ronan Kelleher playing the ball from his knees.

Pollard would miss the resulting penalty, his third wayward effort off the tee, to keep the margin at five.

But South Africa still always felt the more likely victors and would secure the game's key score with a quarter of an hour to go.

Frustratingly from Ireland's perspective, it came from a Springbok error. After his forwards earned a scrum penalty, Pollard missed touch as Lowe flung the ball back infield.

It would bounce favourably, however, for Cheslin Kolbe who hacked forward before gathering to score the first points of the second half.

With South Africa finishing the game with 14 men as Arendse was sent to the bin, Ireland pulled back within a score with five minutes to go when Conor Murray crossed the whitewash as Farrell's side attacked off a goal-line drop.

In a frantic finish, South Africa answered back straight away after Lowe made a mistake on the restart and the home pack powered their way to a penalty try from a five-metre scrum.

There was just enough time for the restart when replacement forward Ryan Baird crossed in the corner in the last minute to bring Ireland back within a converted try but they knocked on to end the game when trying to rescue a draw from deep in their own territory.

South Africa: W le Roux; C Kolbe J Kriel, D de Allende KL Arendse; H Pollard, F de Klerk; O Nche, B Mbonambi, F Malherbe; E Etzebeth, F Mostert; S Kolisi (capt), PS du Toit, K Smith.

Replacements: M Marx, G Steenekamp, V Koch, S Moerat, RG Snyman, M van Staden, G Williams, S Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Sin-bin: Arendse, 73

Ireland: J Osborne; C Nash, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Lowe; J Crowley, C Casey; A Porter, D Sheehan, T Furlong; T Beirne, J McCarthy; P O’Mahony (capt), J van der Flier, C Doris.

Replacements: R Kelleher, C Healy, F Bealham, J Ryan, R Baird, C Murray, C Frawley, G Ringrose.

Sin-bin: Kelleher, 78

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)