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Bowe bags try on return for Ireland

Ulster wing delighted by fantastic win

By Michael Sadlier

It felt good, real good to not only be talking about winning but also being quizzed about another try.

Tommy Bowe had not featured in Joe Schmidt's selections since last November due to his injury travails and here he was, standing there under the west stand having been part of the side who had downed the mighty Springboks and having made his own personal contribution to the result.

His late try - touchdown number 27 in 55 Ireland appearances - was a rare gem in what had been an encounter largely full of huge collisions and frantic work at the breakdown and had seen Jonny Sexton and Conor Murray play some clever stuff before the latter put in the chip for Bowe to collect and cross the line to huge acclaim.

"It was maybe something we'd been practising for a few weeks," he said with that familiar smile when asked if the move was one off the cuff or something that had been hatched up during Joe Schmidt's planning sessions to get the better of Bryan Habana.

And talking of Schmidt, when it was put to the Ulster winger that the Ireland coach had perhaps been targeting the final Test in the series against Australia rather than realistically going after the Boks' scalp he again grinned and answered with: "I don't think you know Joe Schmidt very well if you think that was the idea."

With that, it was on to more detailed matters regarding Ireland's resounding result.

"I think we can take anyone on and to get such a great win I think is a great positive for us," said the 30-year-old.

"When it got to the stage that it was a one-score game in the second half, it would have been easy to have let them back in it but I think we showed that confidence to go on and take it up another level. We were confident that we could do the business," Bowe stated while mentioning that the injuries shipped by the squad were not really a factor in undermining the belief in-house.

"And credit to the guys inside me with their linespeed and breakdown work.

"I think that almost took South Africa by surprise.

"We wanted to get into their faces and I think we did a great job of it.

"I didn't get much ball but what I tried to do, I tried to do well," Bowe said and in helping to propel Ireland forward for Rhys Ruddock's try before then grabbing his own dramatic touchdown he could be fairly satisfied at his evening's work.

But it wasn't all about himself and the team ethic also kicked in with praise for fellow Ulster player Jared Payne on his first cap and sympathy for Chris Henry who was unable to play due to illness.

But the overall feeling was that though defeating South Africa - an outcome few would have foreseen prior to kick-off - was a tremendous fillip for the side, it still did not give adequate meaning to the three Test series unless this result was backed up against Georgia on Sunday and then Australia six days later.

And, of course, Bowe also reflected back to last November and his last game in an Ireland jersey before Saturday night when the All Blacks were let off the hook in a never to be forgotten endgame.

"We probably should have beaten the best side in the world last year," was the quip which accompanied the query as to how he felt after beating the world's second best side.

"We didn't get much ball and we did a lot of defending but our defence was top class," Bowe added getting back to beating the Boks.

Meanwhile, Victor Matfield has challenged South Africa to heed their World Cup "wake-up call" after the defeat.

The lock said: "I think this is a wake-up call for us, there are one or two small little adjustments we need to make.

"The World Cup is still a year away, and in the build-up to 2007 we had a big loss against France in Paris but we still went on to win the competition.

"There are changes we need to make, but hopefully we can learn from this defeat.

"I think the Irish played well but also we didn't play to our potential. We made too many mistakes and one or two bad decisions as well.

"South Africa's a very proud rugby nation, there's always pressure on the guys playing," Matfield added.

"There's a 36-man squad and everyone wants to play.

"So whoever gets on the field has a big responsibility on how they handle almost the character of the team, and the jersey he's got on.

Belfast Telegraph

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