LED by captain Niall Scannell, Ireland recorded a famous victory at the Junior World Cup yesterday as they stunned hosts South Africa in Stellenbosch.
Mike Ruddock's side were inspired by Scannell and Man of the Match JJ Hanrahan, who kicked 13 points and skilfully pushed Ireland forward in open play.
Hanrahan converted Jordan Coghlan's 27th-minute try to give the visitors a 13-3 half-time lead. Ireland looked much sharper up to that point, but the South Africans clawed their way back into it. A close-range try from lock Paul Willemse gave them momentum, while out-half Tony Jantjies was assured from the kicking tee.
He converted Willemse's effort and also landed his second and third penalties to make it 16-16 just past the hour mark, with Hanrahan sandwiching in a drop-goal.
Ireland's ability to charge down the home side's half-backs was a feature of this Pool B opener, and one such incident led to a timely second try for Ruddock's side.
Replacement James Rael blocked a clearance before being driven up close to the try-line. Recent Ulster debutant Iain Henderson picked off the base to fend off two defenders and stretched over past a third for an inspirational try.
Hanrahan added the conversion from the left and Ireland had the benefit of a seven-point cushion heading into the closing stages.
The junior Springboks had the better of both possession and territory as they tried desperately to hit back, but the underdogs defended heroically in the face of incessant pressure.
A fourth penalty from Jantjies saw the hosts cut the gap to four and when they won a line-out five metres from the try-line, it looked as if the South Africans would steal in for a decisive try, but Ireland put pressure on the throw and eventually worked the ball to safety.
IRELAND -- P Nelson (Dungannon); B Daly (UCD), C Farrell (Dungannon), F Horan (Lansdowne), S Coghlan Murray (UCD); JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians), K Marmion (Corinthians); D Merrey (Clontarf), N Scannell (Dolphin, capt), T Furlong (Clontarf), T Beirne (Lansdowne), I Henderson (Queen's Uni), J Coghlan (UCD), C Gilsenan (UCD), J Conan (Old Belvedere). Reps: L McGrath (UCD) for Marmion (57), A Conneely (Corinthians) for Gilsenan (58-64, blood sub), J Rael (Garryowen) for Scannell (64), M Sherlock (Clontarf) for Coghlan Murray (67), A O'Connor (UCD) for Beirne (71), P Reilly (Lansdowne) for Merrey (73).