by Justin Goulding, BBC Sport
South Africa condemned Ireland to their first defeat of the World Cup as they cruised to a 201-run win in Canberra.
Hashim Amla hit 159, Faf du Plessis 109 and Rilee Rossouw a rapid unbeaten 61 in South Africa’s 411-4, the second time in two Pool B games they have passed 400.
Ireland collapsed to 48-5 as they were bowled out for 210 in 45 overs despite Andrew Balbirnie’s 58.
Kyle Abbott finished with 4-21 and fellow pace bowler Morne Morkel 3-34.
South Africa need to win only one of their remaining two group games, against Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, to reach the quarter-finals.
Ireland remain well placed to qualify, although the margin of defeat at the Manuka Oval will have a negative impact on their net run rate before Saturday’s clash with Zimbabwe in Hobart.
This game served as another illustration of South Africa’s immense power with the bat, albeit on a placid surface and against an attack lacking penetration.
Perhaps more alarming for their rivals, captain AB de Villiers – the star of their 257-run win over West Indies with 162 not out off 66 balls – played a negligible role with 24 off nine deliveries.
Amla and Du Plessis shared 247, a South Africa record for the second wicket, before Rossouw and David Miller plundered an unbroken 110 off the last 8.3 overs.
Five South Africa batsmen have now scored centuries in this competition.
Ireland were left to rue two costly misses, Amla put down on 10 by Ed Joyce, and Du Plessis edging between wicketkeeper Gary Wilson and Kevin O’Brien at slip when on 19.
Thereafter, they were barely troubled, rotating the strike almost at will while rarely wasting a chance to punish Ireland’s increasingly wayward attack.
Having seen Quinton de Kock fall in the third over, Amla – typically strong through point and mid-wicket – batted with his usual fluency as he became the quickest player to reach 20 ODI centuries.
Du Plessis, whose hundred was equally measured, was finally bowled making room to Kevin O’Brien, and the departure of Amla and De Villiers in the space of three balls merely gave Rossouw and Miller the freedom to mount a late-innings assault.
An improbable Ireland chase became nigh on impossible as Dale Steyn and Abbott shared five wickets in the first 11 overs.
Balbirnie and O’Brien’s sixth-wicket stand of 81 helped Ireland avert the heaviest defeat in ODI history, but the remainder of the innings was no more than an exercise in limiting the damage to their net run rate.
Although South Africa employed eight bowlers – including part-timer De Villiers, who removed John Mooney – Morkel mopped up the tail with two wickets in successive overs.