Andrew Trimble races through to score Ireland's first try
Ireland (22) 32
Tries: Trimble, Wallace, Horan, Horgan
Cons: O'Gara (3)
Pens: O'Gara (2)
South Africa (3) 15
Tries: Steyn, Habana
Three first-half tries laid the basis for Ireland's deserved win over South Africa at a windswept Lansdowne Road.
Andrew Trimble got Ireland off to a great start by taking Ronan O'Gara's pass to storm through for an early try.
David Wallace scored on an overlap for the second touchdown while Marcus Horan forced his way over for the third.
Tries from Francois Steyn and Bryan Habana gave South Africa hope but their comeback was quickly rebuffed as Shane Horgan's touchdown ended a fine move.
Despite the shaky second-half spell, it was a worthy win for Ireland who had started favourites as the Springboks had opted to rest some top players for the European tour.
South Africa briefly led through an Andrew Pretorius penalty but conceded the opening try on four minutes.
Ireland surged forward and won a scrum 10 metres out which they used to bring Trimble in from the left wing, the powerful Ulsterman bursting through to score.
O'Gara converted and added a penalty to make it 10-3.
Trimble began the move that led to Ireland's second try in the 25th minute with the Ulster winger breaking through several tackles before recycling.
Quick hands saw the ball moved right where Ireland had numbers and Horgan drew his man before supplying the scoring pass to Wallace who raced in under the posts.
Marcus Horan surged over from close-range in the 39th minute and O'Gara converted to leave it 22-3 at half-time.
South Africa got their first try on 65 minutes with new cap Steyn diving over in the left corner.
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Then Habana snapped up a try for South Africa with a excellent score after the ball was swept out to the right.
Ireland hit back immediately with a score of similar quality, Brian O'Driscoll's back-handed pass giving Horgan the touchdown.
Ireland: G Dempsey; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, A Trimble; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, R Best, J Hayes; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell; N Best, D Wallace, D Leamy.
Replacements: F Sheahan, B Young, M O'Kelly, S Easterby, I Boss, P Wallace, G Murphy.
South Africa: B Fortuin; J Pretorious, B Habana, J de Villiers, F Steyn; A Pretorious, R Januarie; L Sephaka, J Smit (capt), CJ van der Linde; J Ackerman, A van den Berg, D Rossouw, J Smith, P Spies.
Replacements: C Ralepelle, BJ Botha, J Muller, J Cronje, R Pienaar, W Olivier, JP Pietersen.
Referee: Paul Honiss (New Zealand).