20 Jun, 09:20
Paul O'Connell is one of four Irish players named to start for the British and Irish Lions when they take on the Qantas Wallabies this Saturday in their first test.
Ruddock called on his talented squad to shock the home side and they duly did, led by man-of-the-match, Munster’s JJ Hanrahan who kicked 13 crucial points and skilfully pushed Ireland forward in open play.
Kerry native Hanrahan converted Jordan Coghlan's 27th-minute opening try to give the visitors a 13-3 half-time lead which was founded on a solid set piece game and muscular defending.
Ireland looked much sharper up to that point, but predictably the South Africans clawed their way back into contention.
A close range try from lock Paul Willemse gave them momentum, while out-half Tony Jantjies was assured from the kicking tee. He converted Willemse's effort and also landed his second and third penalties to make it 16-16 just past the hour mark, with Hanrahan sandwiching in a smartly-taken drop goal.
Ireland skipper, Munster’s Niall Scannell was part of a hugely determined Irish pack and they took everything South Africa could throw at them in a tense final 20 minutes.
Ireland's ability to charge down the home half-backs was a feature throughout this Pool B opener, and one such incident led to a timely second try for Ruddock's side.
Replacement hooker Munster’s James Rael blocked an attempted clearance kick and retrieved possession before being driven up close to the try-line. Iain Henderson picked off the base and fend off two initial defenders and stretched over past a third for an inspirational try.
Hanrahan held his nerve brilliantly to add the conversion from the left and Ireland the benefit of a 23-16 cushion heading into the closing stages.
The Junior Springboks had the better of both possession and territory as they tried desepartely to hit back however a fourth penalty from Jantjies was their only reward.
Ireland stood firm to record the stand-out result of the opening round. They take on England in their next Pool B match on Friday, kick-off 5.45pm. This match will be televised on Sky Sports 2 and TG4.
IRELAND UNDER-20 Team & Replacements
15. Peter Nelson (Dungannon/Ulster)
14. Barry Daly (UCD/Leinster)
13. Foster Horan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
12. Chris Farrell (Dungannon/Ulster)
11. Sam Coghlan Murray (UCD/Leinster)
10. JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster) * Vice Captain
9. Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht)*
1. Des Merrey (Clontarf/Leinster)
2. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) Captain
3. Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) *
4. Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Leinster)
5. Iain Henderson (Queen's University/Ulster) *
6. Jordon Coghlan (UCD/Leinster)
7. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
8. Conor Gilsenan (UCD/Mullingar/Leinster)
16. James Rael (Garryowen/Munster)
17. Peter Reilly (Lansdowne/Leinster)
18. Jake Cawley (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
19. Alan O'Connor (UCD/Leinster)
20. Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht) *
21. Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster)
22. Jake Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht)
23. Mikey Sherlock (Clontarf/Leinster)