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Captain Rory Best vows Irish won't blow series victory

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 20/06/2016

High rised: Ireland’s Paddy Jackson flies over South African Siya Kolisi as he misses a tackle during the second Test match at Ellis Park on Saturday
High rised: Ireland’s Paddy Jackson flies over South African Siya Kolisi as he misses a tackle during the second Test match at Ellis Park on Saturday

Ireland captain Rory Best has warned that his side must not allow the disappointment of Saturday's blown opportunity for a series victory over South Africa to linger into this week.

Joe Schmidt's men seemed to have the game, and series, in hand when 19-3 up as the half-time whistle went in the second Test and history was just 40 minutes away as boos rained down upon the hosts in Ellis Park.

From there though, in energy-sapping conditions high above sea level, momentum decidedly swung and only Jamie Heaslip's show of resistance stopped the Boks from reeling off 29 unanswered points after the turn.

Having looked set to emulate the English, who beat Australia earlier in the day, and head into Saturday's final Test seeking a whitewash, Best must now rally his troops and regroup for a second bite at clinching a first ever series on South African soil.

"It's incredibly frustrating and disappointing, but we know now that it's one-all," the Ulsterman told assembled media after the final whistle.

"We go to Port Elizabeth with a chance to win a Test series over here.

"The important thing over the next 24 hours is that we have to take this loss on the chin, you sometimes have to let these losses dwell in you a little bit and come out the other side stronger.

"We'll look back and I'm sure there's a lot of boys in that changing room who won't be looking forward to the review come Monday morning.

"But it's something that we know as a squad and a team, that that's what makes you stronger.

"It's learning from that and knowing that, if we get ourselves in that position this week, we don't make the same errors we did (on Saturday).

"It's going to be a big investment for us but ultimately we came here to win a Test series and we're in with a shout of doing that. We'll hurt for a little bit, then we'll dust ourselves down and we'll take a big stride forward to try and improve the last quarter this week."

Best was left to rue a final quarter that gave the game away, although he himself was substituted after 65 minutes, with South Africa's bench swinging the game in their favour.

With Schmidt electing to keep some of his Cape Town heroes of seven days prior in reserve for this weekend's now massive Port Elizabeth clash, the hometown Lions Ruan Combrinck and Warren Whiteley both made a big impact as try-scoring replacements for Allister Coetzee.

While their first hour of the game was full of more positives than many would have dared to imagine, Best says the squad will need to look closely at how they lost from a 16-point advantage for only the second time in history and the first since New Zealand stormed back at the Aviva in 2013.

"There was a big onslaught in the first 10 minutes, but we kept our composure and worked our way around the pitch and we got ourselves into the game really well," he said.

"We talked about making sure we didn't let the emotion or the physicality that they would bring get the better of us.

"We did that, to come here and play the way we did for 50, 60 minutes is a positive in itself. But we're a highly competitive team and we'll dwell more on the last quarter. It's very tough to take.

"For large parts we did everything we could.

"They got around the corner, they carried and we started to soak tackles, which is something that, even before we left Dublin, we talked about it, that if we get physically get beaten up by South Africa around the fringes, we're going to be on the back foot and if you go on the back foot against a team like this, you're going to be struggling," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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