Cape Town – They lost Pieter-Steph du Toit in the 12th minute to a red card, but the Springboks produced one of their best performances of 2022 and were denied an improbable win over France on Saturday night.
The French may have held out for a 30-26 victory, but the Boks made a serious statement that they have all the tools to launch a successful defence of their Rugby World Cup title in the same country next year with a courageous performance in Marseille.
Du Toit’s red card for a dangerous ruck clean-out could have resulted in the Boks battling to remain competitive, but the world champions showed their class to take the fight to the French in front of a boisterous Stade Velodrome crowd to nearly snatch an improbable triumph.
A miracle was on the cards for the South Africans when flyhalf Damian Willemse slotted a terrific penalty from 51 metres out on the angle to extend the Bok lead to 26-22 with about 15 minutes to go.
But then replacement flank Deon Fourie was yellow-carded in the 70th minute after the Boks conceded a few penalties inside their own 22, and the French rallied to score a five-pointer via prop Sipili Falatea, while fullback sharp-shooter Thomas Ramos landed a late penalty to seal the deal.
More to follow…
France 30 – Tries: Cyril Baille, Sipili Falatea. Conversions: Thomas Ramos (1). Penalties: Ramos (6).
South Africa 26 – Tries: Siya Kolisi, Kurt-Lee Arendse. Conversions: Cheslin Kolbe (1), Faf de Klerk (1). Penalties: Kolbe (2), De Klerk (1), Damian Willemse (1).