Saturday, November 14, 2009
France beat World Cup holders South Africa 20-13 in a physical yet scrappy match in front of a passionate home crowd in Toulouse.
The dire night for the Springboks started early on, with an absolutely appalling rendition of the national anthem, sung by a Paris based reggae singer who amused the crowd but angered the players.
It was clear from pretty early in the match that the Springboks struggled to cope with the dewy surface, coughing up possession more often than not. France dealt with it better, feeding off the Springbok mistakes.
The French forwards took it to the Boks up front, and not only won a few of the scrums, but seemed to get in their faces enough to throw them off their game.
"We were quite happy about it. For once, it's good to see that it's not their opponents who are bleeding, but them," said France prop Fabien Barcella.
"We felt they weren't expecting this level of combat from us. We're all very happy that we managed to take it to them.
The South Africans are very tough physically, so it's a great honour to beat this remarkable South African team," Barcella said.
"It was very hard and it was a very tough scrap. But we're not going to stop now. ... It's not because we beat the South Africans that we're going to start acting like kings."
At the break South Africa led 13-10, following an opportunistic try from John Smit after a poor lineout throw in from French hooker William Servat.
In the second half France defended well and kept their discipline, giving away only one penalty, whereas it was South Africa who seemed to blown up on a regular basis by referee Wayne Barnes.
Julien Dupuy, despite a few misses, managed to kick four penalties, along with Vincent Clerc scoring a try. Morgan Parra also slotted a kick late in the game.
The Springboks, whose handling was of a poor standard throughout the match, arent making excuses for the loss.
"The French came out firing. Their intensity was very high and they got stuck into everything," Victor Matfield said. "Yes, it was wet out there, but it was wet for both sides. They definitely didn't spill as many balls as we did, so we will have to look at ourselves."
The South African cause wasnt helped by playing the match with 14 men for 20 minutes. Ryan Kankowski and Morne Steyn were both yellow carded. Regarding the match on a whole, Steyn feels they need to make better use of possession.
"You have to use all the ball on the ground," Steyn said. "We will have to go back to the drawing board Monday and see where we can improve for the next two tests."