Ireland coach Joe Schmidt hailed Paddy Jackson’s display as the fly-half’s 16 points helped the 14-man visitors earn a first Test win in South Africa.
Schmidt opted to select Jackson, 24, as opposed to Ian Madigan, to replace injured Johnny Sexton in Saturday’s first Test in Cape Town.
“Paddy did some super stuff,” said the Ireland coach after the 26-20 win.
“He controlled the first 20 minutes of the game. We actually built our confidence through that period.”
The Ireland clinched their historic victory despite having South African-born flanker CJ Stander red-carded in the first half after he knocked Springboks fly-half Patrick Lambie unconscious following a flying charge-down attempt.
Jared Payne’s touchdown helped Ireland take an early 10-3 lead and while Jackson did gift Pieter-Steph du Toit an intercept try, Jackson’s late penalty sealed the visitors’ triumph.
Schmidt felt Stander’s dismissal was “very, very harsh” but French referee Mathieu Raynal’s decision will mean Irish rugby fans will look upon Saturday’s result as one of the best in the country’s history.
Best thrilled as Irish ‘make history’
Captain Rory Best made no attempt to downplay the significance of the win.
“What a way to make history, by having to do something special,” said the Irish skipper, 33.
“For us, it was about the way we stood up.
“It was really tough. You can see why no Irish team has ever won here before, so to win with a man down took a lot of character. It is a very special day for us.”
New South Africa coach Allister Coetzee said his team had been “poor” and must improve for the remaining Tests in the series over the next two weekends.
“It is a disappointing performance and a result,” said Coetzee.
“We must also give the Irish credit. They were outstanding with 14 men. No excuses. We understand we have to fix it.”