Depleted Ireland and SA set for fiery clash

Both sides are without key players but the coaches expect a tight contest in Dublin

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2012, 3:09am


The two sides may be short of some familiar faces but Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and flyhalf Pat Lambie expect fireworks when the South Africans face Ireland at Dublin's Lansdowne Road today.

The first rugby test of the Springboks' northern hemisphere tour is against a side who have beaten them three times out of the last four occasions they've met in Dublin, but the visitors are slight favourites this weekend.

Ireland, thrashed 60-0 last time out by world champions New Zealand in Hamilton in June, are missing through injury six of coach Declan Kidney's key players - Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell, Rob Kearney, Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien and Rory Best.

Meyer, for his part, is also without several stars in Bismarck du Plessis, Heinrich Brussow, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Pierre Spies, Jacques Potgieter, Frans Steyn and Bryan Habana.

Lambie starts in place of the experienced Morne Steyn at outside-half, a position that is a major issue for the Boks, and one that's cost them in recent tests.

"I want to see what he can do, I'm excited to see what he can bring to the team," Meyer said. "He played very well in the last few weeks of the Currie Cup and hopefully he can bring that momentum with him on Saturday.

"He has really impressed me and his goal-kicking has been superb in difficult conditions. He is in the zone, which is what ultimately got him the start."

Elsewhere today, Australia will bid to stretch their winning run over a youthful France side to a record-equalling six successive matches since 2008, Wales take on Argentina and a new-look young England side play Fiji.