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Ireland 'flowing' nicely as Springboks showdown looms

He didn't quite bristle at the suggestion but when it was put to him that Ireland ticked a lot of boxes against Tonga, Andy Farrell was quick to point out that his side are not into box-ticking exercises.

"It was a bit more than that," he told RTÉ Sport.

"We're not into ticking boxes. We would like to see and judge ourselves on how we've prepared for a tough game which it was always going to be against a Tongan side that was raring to go with the quality they've got and the quality coaching staff.

"I thought we handled the game and the opponent extremely well.

"Even when things weren't going too well for us, as in errors, I thought territory-wise, we controlled the game really well. Once we got a couple of scores up, we flowed nicely and controlled the game throughout."

But on that checklist would be five points, a relatively clean bill of health, game-time for more squad players, an almost perfect lineout return (91%, they lost just two of 23), and just one try conceded in the 59-17 victory and a reminder of how good this team, unbeaten now in 15 games, can be.

Farrell might also take a positive from the rarest of rare things: a sin-binning for his team. Peter O'Mahony getting on the wrong side of the ref one too many times just before half-time.

Ireland's stunning run of 12 games without a warning was always going to come to an end at some point so no harm in getting a little practice before the contests ramp up a notch. But that is being greedy really.

Vaea Fifita eventually broke down the wall but, unlike against Romania, Ireland's defence had to deal with a goal-line siege.

"It shows the fight and the want and what it means to the lads to keep them out, even in those type of situations when we are trying to show what it