|South Africa became the fifth team to qualify, despite the best efforts of a valiant Irish side [GALLO/GETTY]
Ireland's slim quarter-final hopes at the Cricket World Cup ended on Tuesday as South Africa breezed into the top eight with a comprehensive 131-run win in their Group B game at Eden Gardens.
JP Duminy fell one short of his first World Cup century, but the left-hander performed a crucial role by dragging his team back from 117-5, when a terrific display from Ireland in the field had sent South Africa’s top order reeling.
The Irish were bowled out for 141 in 33.2 overs, chasing 273 for victory.
Left-arm spinner Robin Peterson took 3-32 and fast bowler Morne Morkel 3-33 to lead South Africa to an ultimately comfortable win after Duminy stepped in with his 99 from 103 balls.
Jacques Kallis had 2-20 and spinners Johan Botha and Duminy took a wicket apiece in a convincing finish from South Africa, leaving them the first team from Group B to reach the last eight.
Ireland's chase under lights began on a shaky note when they lost openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling in the opening four overs, with Morkel taking both the wickets.
Morkel ended the innings when he dismissed George Dockrell to finish with 3-33.
Wilson and Kevin O'Brien (19) offered a brief resistance with a 41-run stand for the fifth wicket before both of them fell to Peterson in the space of three balls.
South Africa innings
H Amla c Dockrell b Rankin 18
G Smith run out 7
M van Wyk b Dockrell 42
J Kallis run out 19
JP Duminy c K O'Brien b Mooney 99
F du Plessis c Johnston b Stirling 11
C Ingram b Johnston 46
J Botha not out 21
R Peterson not out 0
Total: (seven wickets, 50 overs) 272
Did not bat: M. Morkel, D. Steyn
Fall of wickets: 1-24 2-52 3-84 4-95 5-117 6-204 7-269
W Porterfield c Smith b Morkel 6
P Stirling c Kallis b Morkel 10
E Joyce lbw b Botha 12
N O'Brien c van Wyk b Kallis 10
G Wilson lbw b Peterson 31
K O'Brien c Amla b Peterson 19
A Cusack c Smith b Peterson 7
J Mooney c van Wyk b Kallis 14
T Johnston c van Wyk b Duminy 12
G Dockrell c van Wyk b Morkel 16
B Rankin not out 0
Total: (all out, 33.2 overs) 141
Fall of wickets: 1-8 2-19 3-35 4-51 5-92 6-92 7-107 8-123 9-137 10-141
Man-of-the-match Duminy earlier kept the Irish attack at bay with a commendable knock, adding 87 for the sixth wicket with Colin Ingram (46) and 65 for the next with Johan Botha (21 not out).
Morne van Wyk was the other notable run-getter with a brisk 42.
Duminy looked set to complete his third one-day hundred before he fell in the last over, brilliantly caught by Kevin O'Brien at mid-on off seamer John Mooney.
Ingram, playing his first World Cup game in place of injured batsman AB de Villiers, hit seven fours in his 43-ball knock before being bowled by fast bowler Trent Johnston.
The non-Test playing nation did not allow South Africa to settle after they elected to field, with paceman Boyd Rankin and spinners George Dockrell and Paul Stirling taking one wicket apiece.
The Irish bowlers were backed by their fielders, with skipper Porterfield and Mooney having a hand in the run-outs of Kallis (19) and skipper Graeme Smith (seven).
But South African batting problems began in the fifth over when Hashim Amla (18) fell soon after pulling Rankin for a six, upper-cutting the next ball to Dockrell, who took a superb diving catch at deep third man.
Van Wyk went for his shots from the beginning as he twice lofted Johnston for fours and then hit two successive boundaries off Rankin.
He was lucky to survive on 23 when Stirling dropped a regulation slip catch off Rankin, but Ireland did not have to wait long for success as Smith was run out following a Mooney direct hit at the non-striker's end.
Van Wyk continued to play attacking shots as he smashed Johnston for two fours and a six in the same over before his flourish finally ended, bowled by left-arm spinner Dockrell while attempting to cut.
South Africa top Group B with eight points from five matches, followed by India (7/5), the West Indies (6/4), Bangladesh (6/5) and England (5/5).
Ireland, with two points in five games, are eliminated.