Ireland bring down the curtain on their autumn internationals with one eye on avenging the Lions’ Test series defeat by South Africa.
Ireland paraded nine Test Lions in their 22 and despite public denials of any lingering bad blood, they had a score to settle following the bad-tempered 2-1 series defeat.
Schalk Burger started for South Africa five months after receiving an eight-week ban for eye-gouging winger Luke Fitzgerald, who was missing with a knee injury.
The Springboks’ skipper during the series John Smit, who had been critical of the Lions’ lack of sportsmanship in his autobiography, was shifted from prop to his more usual position at hooker.
But the injury-hit world champions suffered a late setback with the withdrawal of Bakkies Botha because of a back injury, resulting in the promotion of Andries Bekker from the bench.
Ireland gave Leinster’s rising star Jonathan Sexton his second Test cap, dropping Ronan O’Gara for the first time against meaningful opposition since 2003.
Ireland v South Africa Ireland: Kearney, Bowe, B. O’Driscoll, P. Wallace, Earls, Sexton, O’Leary, Healy, Flannery, Hayes, O’Callaghan, O’Connell, Ferris, D. Wallace, Heaslip.
Replacements: Cronin, Buckley, Cullen, O’Brien, Stringer, O’Gara, D’Arcy.
South Africa: Kirchner, Pietersen, Fourie, Olivier, Habana, Steyn, du Preez, Mtawarira, Smit, B. Botha, Bekker, Matfield, Brussow, Burger, Rossouw.
Replacements: du Plessis, van der Linde, Hougaard, Deysel, Potgieter, Pienaar, de Villiers.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRFU)