It's taken five years, but for South Africa it was worth the wait thanks to an emphatic 42-17 win over France at Newlands in Cape Town.
It's taken five years, but for South Africa it was worth the wait thanks to an emphatic 42-17 win over France at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Springboks had only managed two wins and a draw in their last nine encounters with the French, but the result was never in doubt this time out after the world champs outscored their visitors five tries to two.
It seemed as if all the emotion resulting from South Africa's football team's draw against Mexico on Friday had their bigger brothers hungry for more success. While the Springboks must have drawn inspiration from Bafana Bafana, the French were as flat as their own football counterparts.
They botched several opportunities deep in their hosts' territory, as the South African hassling wasn't limited to the breakdown, but prominent in the line-out as well.
The French were never really in the game after the hosts raced into a 17-0 lead after the first quarter. The opener came thanks to a fine piece of opportunism from Bryan Habana, who picked up a loose ball before pulling clear of the tacklers in his own half, off-loading to Jaque Fourie who in turn found Pierre Spies on the overlap for a fabulous score under the posts.
Morne Steyn – who finished with a personal tally of 15 points – added the conversion and South Africa were in a handy lead with barely a minute played.
They didn't take their foot off the accelerator any time soon after Gio Aplon – who only made his debut against Wales last week – scored his first points after just eight minutes on his home ground.
The France line-out had already faltered before Aplon pounced on another loose ball, bouncing off Maxime Mermoz before deftly side-stepping Vincent Clerc for an eye-catching touchdown.
The Springboks could taste French blood and came inches away from adding a third shortly afterwards, Zane Kirchner held up a metre short by AurÃ©lien Rougerie but with the defence coming over the top, Steyn opted to take the three.
Desperate defence from the tourists led to South Africa extending the lead still further via Steyn's boot after full-back Clement Poitrenaud failed to release.
France, obviously keen to run the ball being so far behind, got their first points on the board on the half-hour mark when Rougerie finished off a great move that went through Mermoz and Julien Bonnaire.
Morgan Parra added the extras but it was not long before the Springboks scored their third try, Steyn missing out three team-mates with a looping pass that found prop Gurthro Steenkamp in space on the left to power over.
Steyn missed his only kick of the day but the hosts went into the break with a 15-point cushion, France spending the remainder of the half on the offensive before finally opting for goal after another Bok penalty – Parra nudging it over from close range.
Another Steyn penalty re-established South Africa's 18-point lead after the break, and any hopes France may have had of a comeback were ended when a loose pass in a promising attacking position was seized on by Aplon and the Stormers speed merchant raced 80 metres to dot down. Steyn again added the extras.
France looked to hit back as Rougerie's pass set scrum-half Parra on a run to the line, but a magnificent covering tackle from the outstanding Danie Rossouw denied the scrum-half.
With his side well on the way to victory Springbok coach Peter de Villiers brought on flanker Dewald Potgieter and fly-half Ruan Pienaar, as well as handing a debut to lock Flip van der Merwe, although the latter's first cap was quickly interrupted as he was sin-binned for slowing down the ball.
With the visitors also ringing the changes the game became a scrappy affair but flanker Louw got his first Test score late on as he broke clear to race over. Pienaar added the extras, to cap an impressive display from South Africa.
But there was still time for replacements David Skrela and Andreu to link up for the latter to barge his way over for what was only a consolation score for the Six Nations champions.
Man of the match: Tough to pick from such a dominant display from the Boks – Aplon's brace, Steyn's accuracy or Louw's power? Perhaps, but we thought after all his criticism, number nine Ricky Januarie rose to the occasion and put in a worthy performance in the green and gold jersey.
Moment of the match: We'll give it to Gio Aplon's 90m run that earned him his second try for his country – a real gem.
Villain of the match: Two yellow cards, to debutant Flip van der Merwe and veteran Dimitri Yachvili… but there was nothing malice in it.
For South Africa:
Tries: Spies, Aplon 2, Steenkamp, Louw
Cons: Steyn 3, Pienaar
Pens: Steyn 2
Tries: Rougerie, Andreu
Cons: Parra, Skrela
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Ricky Januarie , 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit, 1 GurthrÃ¶ Steenkamp. Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Dewald Potgieter, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Jean de Villiers.
France: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 David Marty, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 AurÃ©lien Rougerie, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Julien Bonnaire, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Romain Millo- Chluski, 4 Lionel Nallet, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Jean Baptiste Poux, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Louis Picamoles, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 David Skrela, 22 Marc Andreu.
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
By Dave Morris