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Published: 19:17 | 11/6/16

Schmidt 'never prouder of Ireland players'

Ireland win in South Africa for the first time

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says he has "never been prouder of this group of players" following the 26-20 win over South Africa in Cape Town.

Ireland sealed victory on South African soil for the first time in their history despite losing CJ Stander to a red card midway through the first half, and Schmidt paid tribute to his players' resilience at Newlands after going down to 13 men before half-time following Robbie Henshaw’s sin-bin.

"We controlled the first 20 minutes, which caused our confidence to grow a little bit, and the nine minutes before half-time with 13 men were incredible," he told Sky Sports.

They way the players dug in and rebounded from that, worked harder for each other - I have probably never been prouder of the group of players we have."

The New Zealander says his medical staff will need to "nurse a few tired bodies" ahead of the Second Test in Johannesburg next Saturday.

"I know the pride and the ability the Springboks have, and I have no doubt they will bounce back, and it will be incredibly difficult for us next week," he continued.

"We covered a few more metres than we normally cover because we were a man down, so we will try to look forward rather than reflect too long on this, as we know what is coming next week."

Ireland skipper Rory Best was also delighted by the perfromance and the response of his team-mates following Stander's sending off for a reckless challenge on Patrick Lambie.

“We knew to come here and get a victory would be unbelievably tough and require a massive physical performance,” Best told Sky Sports.

“We dug really deep to get that win. If we had sat back and kept giving them ball we would have eventually run out of steam, so we had to take the game to them.

“There are a lot of tired boys who are running on empty now after the euphoria of the win.”

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