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Ireland fans' jubilation at rare win over South Africa

By Michael Sadlier

It was really never going to happen. Poor little Ireland, undone by a spiralling injury list, trying to undermine power of the Springboks. There could only be one outcome and it wasn't a home win.

Or so most of the sell-out crowd at a perishingly cold Aviva Stadium thought.

After all, the home side weren't even wearing green, that fell to South Africa who as the visiting team were, as is the custom, allowed to keep their traditional colours while the Irish played in, well, white.

It just all added to the sense that South Africa were just going to steamroll their way to another victory just as they had done the month before against the All Blacks of all sides and that Ireland were going to put out the white flag long before the end.

But what we got was something completely different.

It was all a bit reminiscent of the ad that was playing at the stadium, you know the one for the dark stuff which shows us grainy clips of a certain day back in 1978 in Limerick when Munster achieved the seemingly impossible by beating the All Blacks.

Yes, those guys who Ireland lost out to a year ago in the very last play of one of the most dramatic games you're ever likely to see.

No, let's not remind ourselves of that please.

But back to things 1978. That was a day when those in red stood up and fought to shake the mighty Blacks to their very core while being cheered on by disbelieving Thomond Park throng.

It's not that Ireland haven't beaten South Africa before, but it was just that nobody gave them a snowball's chance in you know where of doing it again on Saturday evening.

No, not without injured Ulsterman Rory Best and a host of others and not, of course, with the great Brian O'Driscoll now a mere bystander after retirement eventually caught up with the giant of Irish rugby.

But did it they did, beating those pesky Boks all-up to the tune of 29-15 with our own Tommy Bowe roaring back into Test rugby with a late try while Jared Payne - OK, he's a Kiwi but three years living and playing here means he can be Irish too - marked his first ever cap with a scalp he'll never forget.

So, all praise to Ireland and their coach Joe Schmidt - ahem, he's also a Kiwi - and as the supporters filed out of the ground and away into the Dublin night the belief that this Ireland side can maybe do something extraordinary in next autumn's World Cup began to take shape.

Now if only those All Blacks were up next...

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