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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Springboks end satisfying year with victory over France in Paris

The Springboks finished their year on a high by beating Les Blues in France for the first time since 1997, and finished with an impressive 10 wins from 12 matches. The 19-10 victory in Paris completed their statistically best campaign in 16 years.

JP Pietersen silenced the Stade de France with a try in the opening minutes following a Morgan Parra attempted clearance. Morne Steyn converted from the sideline as the Springboks started well.

France came back with a try just before halftime but in the end the visitors were the stronger side and they capped off a good year with the win, and a record second only to the All Blacks.

"The great thing about this team is that we just go out and play. It doesn't matter if we're at home or away. We adapt," said coach Heyneke Meyer. "What makes this team special is that guys really step up if they need to. You win these games by being mentally very tough and struggling through."

Their win vs Wales was only the second time since 1994 that the Welsh didn't score a try against them, and a week later they kept Scotland pointless for the first time since 1951.

Including last year's wins over Ireland, Scotland and England, they've won 13 of their last 15 matches. They are also the only team to have gone unbeaten for the last two End of Year tours.

France, the 2011 Rugby World Cup finalists, have had a poor year, finishing last in the Six Nations, losing four times to New Zealand and only beating Scotland and Tonga.

"I must congratulate my players for the commitment they showed out there, but you can't start against one of the best teams in the world by giving them seven points," said Philippe Saint-Andre.

While it was a hard-fought match and wasn't a perfect performance from the Springboks, they were pleased with the end result. "We have massive respect for France, we knew it was going to be ugly but we just had to win," said Bok captain Jean De Villiers, who will skipper the Barbarians vs Fiji.

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