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Sexton kicks Ireland to win over Boks

Jonathan Sexton staked a claim to Ireland's fly-half berth ahead of next year's Six Nations tournament.
Jonathan Sexton staked a claim to Ireland's fly-half berth ahead of next year's Six Nations tournament.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Six Nations winners Ireland ended the year unbeaten after defeating South Africa 15-10
  • Jonathan Sexton kicked five penalties as world rugby champions lose in Dublin
  • New Zealand avenge June's home defeat by France with a 39-12 victory in Paris
  • Scotland lose 9-6 at home to Argentina, while Australia triumph 33-12 in Wales
RELATED TOPICS
  • Ireland
  • South Africa
  • France
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Wales
  • Scotland
  • Argentina
  • Italy
  • Samoa
  • Rugby

(CNN) -- Six Nations winners Ireland ended the year unbeaten after defeating world rugby champions South Africa 15-10 in Dublin on Saturday thanks to an assured kicking performance from newcomer Jonathan Sexton.

The fly-half, playing only his second international ahead of the veteran Ronan O'Gara, landed five penalties as the Irish overcame conceding the game's only try to Schalk Burger in the 16th minute.

The injury-hit Springboks, who won the southern hemisphere's Tri-Nations title this year, were left to lament three missed kicks at goal by fly-half Morne Steyn and one by substitute Ruan Pienaar.

The Irish fielded nine players who toured South Africa with the Lions earlier this year, when flanker Burger was banned for eight weeks for eye-gouging Luke Fitzgerald.

Sexton landed an early penalty from long range, but Steyn helped to send blindsider Burger over the line and added the extras, before making it 10-3 with a drop-goal.

Sexton reduced the deficit before halftime as Steyn three times missed from considerable distance.

Ireland moved 12-10 ahead with two more Sexton goals despite struggling at the scrums, and the visitors started to wilt after Pienaar hit the post with a penalty attempt.

New Zealand ended their northern hemisphere tour unbeaten after crushing France 39-12 in Marseille, running in five tries to none.

The All Blacks have suffered an uncharacteristic four defeats this year -- three of them to the Springboks -- but took the chance to avenge the shock 27-22 home loss to Les Bleus in June.

The Kiwis, who had earlier beaten Wales, Italy and England on tour, led 22-12 at halftime as backs Sitiveni Sivivatu and Mils Muliaina crossed for tries along with back-row forward Jerome Kaino.

Winger Cory Jane and center Conrad Smith went over in the second half and mercurial fly-half Dan Carter kicked a total of 14 points while orchestrating the All Blacks' most free-flowing performance of the tour against a side who had earlier beaten South Africa and Samoa.

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw was named the International Rugby Board's player of the year after the match, becoming the first to achieve the honor twice following his 2006 award.

Scotland crashed back to earth following last weekend's first win over Australia in 27 years, losing 9-6 at home to bogey side Argentina.

The visitors came back from 6-0 down at halftime in Edinburgh, where they have not lost for 19 years, and inflicted the first defeat on Scots coach Andy Robinson.

Phil Godman kicked two penalties to give Scotland hope of winning all their November internationals for the first time since 2002, but paid the price for lock Nathan Hines' second-half sin-binning as Martin Rodriguez leveled with two kicks of his own.

Rodriguez then landed a drop-goal two minutes from time to give the Pumas a fourth straight win at Murrayfield and their first victory on this tour.

Australia, however, relieved the pressure on coach Robbie Deans by crushing Wales 33-12 in Cardiff, avenging last year's 21-18 defeat.

Matt Giteau missed a last-gasp conversion against the Scots which would have won the match, but was to the fore this time as the Wallabies ran in three early tries.

Center Digby Ioane, lock James Horwill, flanker David Pocock went over in the first 16 minutes, while Wales lost Shane Williams, try-scorer Leigh Halfpenny and Matthew Rees to injury as they surrendered a 23-12 halftime deficit.

Substitute hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau crossed in the second half while Giteau kicked 13 points in total to hand Wales coach Warren Gatland, a New Zealander, his heaviest home defeat in front of a 74,339 crowd.

Italy beat the touring Samoa team 24-6 for their first victory in four encounters with the Pacific Islanders, who had Henry Fa'afili sent off for a high tackle on first-half tryscorer Luke McLean.