South Africa beat France on French soil for the first time in 16 years with a hard-fought 19-10 victory at the Stade de France on Saturday.
South Africa beat France on French soil for the first time in 16 years on Saturday with a hard-fought 19-10 victory at the Stade de France.
The Springboks led from start to finish and were 13-7 ahead at the interval thanks to an opportunistic early try from JP Pietersen, with France replying just before half-time via a Yoann Huget try.
In what turned out to be a disappointing spectacle, neither side was particularly impressive with ball in hand – indeed both tries came from opposition errors – but both teams must be commended for their defensive efforts.
One must question the French tactics, especially in the first stanza, as the hosts consistently played themselves into trouble by trying to spread it wide too early with runners from deep, often resulting in them losing ground to the fast approaching Springbok defensive line.
The shoddy Parisian pitch turned the scrums into somewhat of a lottery but their was no luck in South Africa's dominance of the contact area.
The Boks got off to an ideal start as Pietersen charged down French scrum-half Morgan Parra before regathering and touching down inside the first minute.
Parra had a nightmare start to the game, missing an easy penalty shortly afterwards as he lost his footing on the sub-standard surface.
Morne Steyn had no such problems as he added two penalties to his earlier conversion to give the tourists a 13-0 lead with half-time looming large.
The signs were ominous for les Bleus but they struck back immediately. Pascal PapÃ© latched onto the loose ball on the edge of a ruck after the restart and Parra was up in support to put Huget over in the corner.
Parra slotted the conversion from the touchline to cut the gap to six points as the teams swapped ends.
As in the first half, South Africa looked to have landed a blow early in the second period when Jaque Fourie crossed, only to see the try denied by the TMO for a knock-on by Steyn in the build up.
Again the television ref was called upon when Huget just managed to get a touch on a bobbling ball ahead of Francois Louw in-goal to maintain the status quo.
The first points of the second half finally came around the hour mark when Steyn landed his third penalty to give the Boks some breathing room at 16-7.
Steyn miss-hit an attempted drop goal before French replacement prop Thomas Domingo saw yellow for a tip tackle on Bryan Habana.
The hosts survived eight minutes with a man down but would finish a man up as Louw was sent to the bin for a silly hand to the face of the prone PapÃ©.
Parra's replacement Jean-Marc Doussain slotted the three points to bring the French within striking distance at 16-10 but a late Pat Lambie penalty secured the victory for Heyneke Meyer's men.
Man of the match: We had Louw's name pencilled in until his rush of blood to the head – which could have cost his team dearly – but we'll go with Flip van der Merwe, who ran the show at line-out time and put in plenty of thundering hits.
Moment of the match: It took less than 60 seconds for Pietersen to score the first try. From then on France were playing catch-up and never managed to get their noses in front.
Villain of the match: The Stade de France pitch is simply not good enough for Test rugby.
Yellow card: Domingo
For South Africa:
Pens: Steyn 3, Lambie
Yellow card: Louw
France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Sofiane Guitoune, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 RÃ©mi TalÃ¨s, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal PapÃ©, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 FrÃ©dÃ©ric Michalak, 23 Mathieu Bastareaud
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 GurthrÃ¶ Steenkamp, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Siya Kolisi, 22 Jano Vermaak, 23 Patrick Lambie.
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)