The Springboks managed to gain some sort of revenge for their failed 2023 Rugby World Cup bid when they beat France 18-17 in a rather scrappy affair at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday night.
The French were awarded rugby’s showpiece event in six years’ time, and seemed to rub it in when they had #France2023 emblazoned on the front of their jerseys. It looked like this irked the Boks, as the South Africans started the match with lot more intensity and physicality than they showed in the 38-3 drubbing at the hands of Ireland the week before.
The Boks took the lead in the eighth minute when they attacked the French with ball in hand from their own half. Wing Courtnall Skosan broke the line, and after a few phases his fellow wing Dillyn Leyds went over to score his fist Test try.
New flyhalf Handré Pollard then celebrated his first run-on start in the green and gold with a penalty to take the Boks’ lead up to 8-0. However, France hit back nine minutes later when Anthony Belleau profited from the visitors inability to deal with a high kick.
The Boks dominated the latter part of the second half, but couldn’t convert their dominance into points after Pollard missed two easy penalties before the break.
The Bulls flyhalf missed another shortly after halftime, and it was France that ended up taking the lead in the 48th minute when Belleau converted a penalty of his own.
But the Boks took control of the encounter when Baptiste Serin was yellow-carded for an early tackle on Malcolm Marx in the France 22. Pollard then hit the target from the kicking tee, before the Boks stretched their lead to more than a converted try.
The Boks were rewarded for chancing their arm against the 14 men of France when Jesse Kriel crossed the line after an offload in the tackle by his captain Eben Etzebeth, which was reviewed by the Television Match Official.
France launched a late attack to try and beat the Boks, and Serin made up for his yellow card when he scored in the 77th minute to make it a one-point game. However, the Boks managed to hold on to record their first win of their end-of-year tour.