Heaslip savours South Africa revenge

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The Independent Online

Jamie Heaslip admitted Ireland's Lions contingent could take satisfaction from having avenged their series defeat by South Africa.

The Grand Slam champions posted a hard-fought 15-10 triumph at Croke Park on Saturday to amass their third successive victory over the Springboks.

Nine Lions who played the summer series won 2-1 by South Africa were in Ireland's 22 and Heaslip admits the triumph tastes all the sweeter for them.

"I was very confident that with the squad we have and the mentality we've generated over the past year that we could win," he said.

"I'm very happy with the performance. Since the last game of the Lions tour we had targeted this as a match we could win.

"Some of us lost two games to them in the summer and we felt that wasn't fair justice."

One of the hallmarks of Ireland's victory was their willingness to match South Africa blow for blow in an often ferocious encounter.

They attacked the breakdown with ferocity and gave everything in defence, prompting centre Gordon D'Arcy to state that Ireland refuse to be cowed.

"South Africa try to bully you off the pitch but if there was any bullying to be done we were going to do it," said D'Arcy.

"This calendar year we've shown we're a physical team with a pack that can mix it with anyone in the world.

"When it comes down to the nitty gritty we can do it as well as anyone."

D'Arcy also took a swipe at South Africa's tactics, questioning why they continued to bombard man of the match Rob Kearney with high balls when the Leinster full-back was returning everything thrown at him with interest.

"Rob caught those balls on the run. It's a huge thing for the pack to look back and see Rob take the ball on the run and carry it straight back," he said.

"You have to ask why a team's gameplan would be to kick the ball to him."

D'Arcy hailed matchwinner Jonathan Sexton's nerveless display in booting five penalties.

"It's a mark of a good player that when the pressure comes on he wants the ball," he said.

"He always wants it - it was the same during the Heineken Cup semi-finals and final last season."