Ireland beaten by South Africa after letting lead slip at Aviva Stadium
Last Updated: 11/11/12 8:16am
Ruan Pienaar scored the only try of the match for the Springboks
A second-half fightback from South Africa saw them claim a hard-fought 16-12 win against Ireland at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
In a match which lacked any real attacking flair, the injury-hit hosts led 12-3 at half-time but the Springboks turned the tables by improving significantly after the break.
Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar scored the only try of the match and Pat Lambie added three penalties and a conversion, with Jonathan Sexton kicking four penalties for Ireland.
Sexton gave an early lead to the hosts, who were playing in black with the Springboks kitted out in their familiar green, as he slotted over a penalty on six minutes.
He then added to his tally with two long-range efforts, the first of which was from near the halfway line, while South Africa fly-half Lambie scored a penalty of his own in between.
Another Sexton penalty made it 12-3 and the Springboks' frustration boiled over at the restart when wing JP Pietersen was sin-binned for taking out Chris Henry before the ball had reached him.
At the start of the second half the hosts also went a man down as skipper Jamie Heaslip was yellow carded after persistent infringements and Pienaar capitalised by nipping in from close range for the first try of the night.
South Africa edged ahead for the first time when Lambie slotted over his second penalty in the 53rd minute as the southern hemisphere side began to take control of the contest.
Lambie added another penalty to increase the lead to four points, with Ireland unable to threaten the try-line in the closing stages.
Sexton started his day by converting four kicks from four attempts but missed for the first time just before half-time and was off-target again during the second half.