Ireland captain Rory Best says his side’s second-half errors proved decisive in Saturday’s second Test defeat by South Africa in Johannesburg.
The Springboks mounted a dramatic second-half comeback to win 32-26 at Ellis Park and level the series at 1-1.
“We put ourselves in a great position to win the game and the series, but we’ll look back on a lot of mistakes in the second half,” said Best.
“We gave South Africa momentum and they showed the quality side they are.”
Ireland bidding to create history
Ireland’s bid to become the first of the four home nations to win a series in South Africa looked to be on course as a Devin Toner try and 14 points from the boot of fly-half Paddy Jackson helped the tourists to a 19-3 half-time lead.
Four tries from the hosts in the second half, to one from Jamie Heaslip for the Irish, ensured that the series would be decided in Port Elizabeth next Saturday.
“We were very physical for the first 50 or 60 minutes and did everything we had talked about doing,” continued the Ireland hooker.
“Even when we were conceding tries, we went up and scored again and that showed a lot of mental resolve from our boys.
“We are disappointed with the result but will take a few positives. It’s 1-1 in the series and we’ll back ourselves to go to Port Elizabeth and try to get the win. It will be another really tough Test match.”
Strauss proud of South Africa effort
Triumphant South Africa skipper Adriaan Strauss said he was “proud of every single player in that team” after his side recorded just their third victory in their past eight encounters against Ireland.
The win was the first under new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee and maintained his nation’s hopes of safeguarding an enviable record of not having lost a Test series at home in the past 19 years.
“The boys really stood up and were counted and showed their character,” said Strauss.
“There were a lot of opportunities we didn’t take and we need to have a more ruthless mindset to get points on the board.
“We still have a lot to work on and we need to take a hard look at ourselves and come back stronger next weekend.”