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ICC World Cup: Ireland left to rue the one that got away

Canberra: Ireland got an early and painful reminder of what a fickle mistress cricket can be in their 201-run defeat at the hands of South Africa in their third World Cup match on Tuesday.

The Irish, who came into the contest at Manuka Oval with a burgeoning reputation and two victories under their belts, had already removed South African opener Quinton de Kock when Kevin O`Brien came on to bowl in the sixth over.

De Kock`s partner Hashim Amla, who had scored 10 runs, clipped the first delivery to Ed Joyce at mid-wicket only for the former England batsman to put the catch down on the Manuka Oval turf.

Some 44 overs later and Amla had 159 runs next his name on the scoreboard and Ireland were chasing a nigh on impossible target of 412 for victory.

"Obviously it was a big chance there and he obviously made us pay," said Ireland captain William Porterfield.

"He`s a fantastic player, we`re not going to get too many chances off him, especially in such a good wicket.

"But that`s cricket, we`ve got to move on from that."

Ireland`s run chase also started badly as South Africa`s pacemen Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott combined to reduce them to 42 for four in the ninth over.

Andrew Balbirnie and O`Brien stopped the rot with a 81-run partnership, however.

Stiff Irish resistance kept the contest alive until the 45th over and avoided the embarrassment of the heaviest defeat in more than four decades of one-day internationals.

"When you are four down coming out to 10, you are going to struggle," Porterfield added.

"All credit to the lower order, there was some pretty aggressive bowling out there but they stuck at it.

"I was very pleased the way we kept going on the field, as well, coming down the back end. Just a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy shown then.

"It was quite easy to drift away, but no one really shied away from the task of either taking the ball or in the field, which was pleasing."

Irish pride may have taken bit of a dent but their hopes of a quarter-final spot are still very much alive, with Saturday`s match against Zimbabwe in Hobart looming as a crunch game.

"Every game throughout is a two-pointer for us, and Hobart is no different," said Porterfield.

"Now we`ve got to take what we can from this game and move forward to there, and obviously two points up for grabs, and it`s a pretty big two points for us."

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