Ireland edges South Africa in Rugby World Cup clash of titans

Ireland defeated defending champion South Africa 13-8 in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown at the Rugby World Cup that exceeded the hype on Saturday at Stade de France.

In a low-scoring but ferociously gripping match, both sides scored a try but Ireland slotted all of its goalkicks while South Africa missed four of five, leaving 11 points in the wind.

Right winger Mack Hansen scored Ireland’s try after 33 minutes — the first South Africa conceded in this tournament — and left winger Cheslin Kolbe replied with a try for the Springboks early in the second half.

After Jonathan Sexton’s penalty put Ireland ahead 10-8 an hour in, his replacement Jack Crowley slotted a 77th-minute penalty to leave South Africa needing a try to draw and a converted score to win.

With seconds left, the Springboks attempted a rolling maul off lineout ball but they were smothered and couldn’t recycle the ball quickly enough before the play was whistled and the game was over.

Ireland beat the defending champions for the second time in 10 months and for the first time at the Rugby World Cup.

Ireland extended its test-win streak to 16 and will likely top Pool B, thus probably avoiding host France in the quarterfinals and setting up a meeting with three-time champion New Zealand.