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JOHANNESBURG — A week after South African fans were taking a swipe at referee Angus Gardner for gifting England a 1-point victory at Twickenham, French fans were taking a swipe at referee Nigel Owens for gifting South Africa a 3-point win over France at the Stade de France. If ever the cliché “snatching victory from the jaws of defeat” was appropriate to describe a match, this is it. France was deep in South African territory with seconds left on the clock and leading 26-22. Had a French kick for touch been delayed by a second or two, it would have gone out to signal the end of the match. But when the ball went out of play time was not yet up and South Africa was allowed a last-gasp lineout. It would be the final move of the match, allowing for penalties. For the next 5 minutes, the Boks clung to possession and, after a disallowed try by Aphiwe Dyantyi because of a forward pass, managed to bulldoze over the French line for a famous victory. After the dramatic final seconds of the Twickenham Test, this result has left South African nerves utterly shredded. Imagine the rage of the French team who allowed themselves to lose from a dominant lead of 23-9. Coach Jacques Brunel didn’t mince his words when he said he was “angry” and had a go at Nigel Owens for being “indulgent”. South African fans would suggest he was merely applying the laws, as Angus Gardner should have done a week earlier. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, praised the calmness of the Springboks to stay in the fight right to the end against France at the Stade de France late on Saturday evening despite enormous defensive pressure from the French side.
Bongi Mbonambi crashed over for the winning try in the 85th minute to clinch a thrilling 29-26 comeback win for the Springboks in Paris. France led 16-9 at halftime and managed to increase their led to 23-9 at one stage, before the Springboks started with their successful fightback in front of a lively Parisian crowd.
“Last week we took it through 15 phases to get a penalty to win the game (and it didn’t happen) and this week we had to score a try to win the match,” said Erasmus, who mentioned that his side learnt a lot from last weekend’s mistakes at Twickenham where England edged South Africa by a single point.
“It was definitely not the most clinical performance but the team was gusty enough and it feels much better (than last week).”
France were the better side in the first half and they managed to stretch their halftime advantage to a threatening 23-9 lead after the break.
“We’ve done it a few times this year where we were behind quite early in the match, but this score line happened just before and after halftime and that made it tough,” admitted Erasmus. “There were a few big moments (for us) and I thought our guys handled those and the pressure very well.”
The South African confidence increased as the second half progressed, and they were rewarded for their efforts by virtue of two converted tries, scored by Sibusiso Nkosi and replacement hooker Mbonambi, while Handre Pollard slotted five penalties for a faultless kicking display.
Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi was also full of praise for the Springboks’ fighting spirit, which saw them grinding out a morale boosting win.
“We kept on fighting and it was special to see the energy of the guys at the end. We thought Cheslin had scored and Aphiwe’s try was ruled out (because of a forward pass) but we pressed on and I’m glad we were rewarded today,” said Kolisi.
The Springboks now travel to Scotland for their third match of the tour next Saturday against Scotland in Edinburgh.
France 26 – Tries: Guilhem Guirado, Mathieu Bastereaud; Conversions: Baptiste Serin (2); Penalties: Serin (3); Drop goal: Camille Lopez.
South Africa 29 – Tries: Sibusiso Nkosi, Bongi Mbonambi; Conversions: Handre Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (5).