Mon, Nov 15, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Ireland overcomes South Africa

AP , LONDON

South Africia's Percy Montgomery, center, tries to find a way through the Irish defense in their international rugby match at Lansdowne Road in Dublin on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Six Nations champion France muscled out Australia 27-14 and Ireland upset Tri-Nations holder South Africa 17-12 for the first time in 39 years in international rugby on Saturday.

Meanwhile, New Zealand cruised past Italy 59-10 in Rome, England squashed Canada 70-0 at Twickenham, and Scotland whipped Japan 100-8 in Perth with 15 tries.

France's first win over the Wallabies in Paris since 1983 equaled Les Bleus' record string of eight victories during 2001-2002, and upheld France's unbeaten run this year.

"I am proud of my players. They battled to win this match by applying a lot of defensive pressure and taking risks," said France coach Bernard Laporte.

He felt his team could have won by an even greater margin.

"Don't forget we were kept out three times on the try line," Laporte said.

Nicolas Brusque and Frederic Michalak scored tries and scrumhalf Jean-Baptiste Elissalde took over the goalkicking from Michalak to slot five penalties. It was only the second win over World Cup runner-up Australia in the last 10 meetings.

Captain George Gregan got the Wallabies' lone try and the defeat could have been heavier if not for some ferocious tackling. Matt Giteau added two penalties for Australia before he left the field injured soon after halftime.

Meanwhile, Ronan O'Gara inspired Ireland's defeat of South Africa, scoring all of his team's points at Lansdowne Road, the site of the last Ireland victory over the Springboks in 1965.

It was Ireland's second win over South Africa in 17 attempts, including two matches in June. The two drew 8-8 in 1970.

"We prepared mentally very hard in the run-up to the game and it was more a mental battle out there than anything else," Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan said.

"We showed great resilience and we rallied very, very well when we were under pressure in the second half."

O'Gara squeezed over the line to give Ireland a 5-0 lead early on in the game's only try. His kicking kept Ireland ahead throughout the match, with Percy Montgomery booting all the points for South Africa.

Ireland had an 8-3 halftime lead, and O'Gara extended it to 17-6 -- taking advantage of Schalk Burger getting sinbinned -- before the Springboks hit back with two Montgomery penalties. In the closing minutes, South Africa desperately pushed forward for a try but the Irish defense held firm.

"It strikes me that we had so many chances to finish them off but didn't take them," Springboks coach Jake White said. "I will look at the video but I can't understand why we weren't more ruthless when we had opportunities to score."

In Rome, an experimental All Blacks side dominated Italy, running in three converted tries in the first nine minutes and cruising home.

New Zealand captain Tana Umaga, Mils Muliaina and Richie McCaw each picked up two tries, with Daniel Carter, Conrad Smith, and Saimone Taumoepeau also touching down, the last pair on debut.

Italy, coached by All Black great John Kirwan, scored a penalty through Rima Wakarua -- one of the four New Zealand-born players in the Azzurri lineup -- and flanker Mauro Bergamasco picked up a late consolation try for the home side.

"The first 20 minutes were pretty devastating for us," Kirwan said.

"Maybe we had too much respect" for New Zealand.

At Twickenham, coach Andy Robinson's new-look England manhandled a raw Canada squad, with Jason Robinson marking his first game as England captain with a hat trick of tries.

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