Experience the exhilarating journey as Lucky Maree provides a detailed account of the intense battle between the Springboks and France in the World Cup quarter-final, resulting in a thrilling 29-28 victory for South Africa.
➤ As the final minutes approach:
The Springboks must start with intensity and momentum. A slow start would give the French an advantage that could be difficult to overcome. Cobus Reinach may hold the key to their success.
Throughout the week leading up to the match, the French media, players, and fans have repeatedly warned the Springboks to avoid engaging with Antoine Dupont. Thankfully, Siya Kolisi has reassured that the Boks will tackle with their characteristic toughness.
Passion fills the air as referee Ben O’Keeffe commences the match. Antoine Dupont immediately puts pressure on the Springboks with two impressive chip kicks, but Kurt-Lee Arendse’s exceptional performance prevents a score.
However, the relief is short-lived. Cyril Baille leads the French forwards in a spectacular try, giving France a seven-point lead within three minutes. But the Springboks quickly respond. Reinach kicks ahead, Arendse collects, and scores! Manie Libbok’s successful conversion levels the scores.
The Springboks hold their ground in the scrums, with brave efforts from Steven Kitshoff against the formidable 150kg Uini Atonio in the front row.
And then, silence falls upon the French crowd as a power try unfolds. Damian de Allende initiates a move that he brilliantly finishes himself. Unfortunately, the conversion is unsuccessful. South Africa leads 12-7.
Dupont’s magic leads to a try by Peato Mauvaka. Remarkably, Cheslin Kolbe blocks the conversion attempt by Thomas Ramos, saving two crucial points.
Witnessing Cheslin Kolbe flawlessly pick up Jesse Kriel’s grubber kick, cautiously glance over his shoulder to assess the opposition, and skillfully evade potential tackles to score is an epitome of sporting perfection. The Springboks now lead 19-12.
France retaliates with a second try from Cyril Baille, bringing the scores level.
South Africa receives its first yellow card of the tournament, sparking jeers from the French crowd as Eben Etzebeth exits the field.
Ramos successfully converts a penalty, granting France a three-point lead at halftime.
➤ 2nd half:
The Springboks face pressure within the first ten minutes. However, their defense remains resolute as Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk, RG Snyman, and Deon Fourie join the field. Eben Etzebeth faces loud booing after serving his ten minutes in the sin bin.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, France extends their lead to six points through a penalty kick by Thomas Ramos. The match intensifies into a captivating forward battle.
Despite Pollard’s presence on the field, the Springboks concede a penalty when opting for the lineout, which France successfully wins.
With 15 minutes remaining, the Boks seize an opportunity with a tap kick that leaves France defenseless. Etzebeth scores a crucial try, converted by Pollard. The Springboks now lead by a single point.
A minute later, Pollard adds to the tally with a remarkable penalty kick from 55 meters out, increasing the Boks’ lead to four points.
Ramos retaliates with a penalty, reducing South Africa’s lead to a mere one point.
As time expires, France possesses a final chance for victory. However, their hopes vanish as the ball is skillfully ripped away and kicked out.
A collective team effort secures a nail-biting one-point victory for South Africa, propelling them into the semi-finals where they will face England.
South Africa (4 tries) 29-28 (3 tries) France