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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Five takeaways from Boks’ dramatic win against France

The Boks won the thrilling match in Paris 29-28 and will now face England in the semi-finals.

The Springboks made it to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup after ousting hosts France in a final-eight meeting, beating them 29-28 in a nail-biting clash at the Stade de France in Paris on Sunday night.

The Boks went into the interval trailing 22-19 but then held their nerve to steal the win 29-28 to stun the French team and the rest of the host nation. The match was of the highest standard and had many talking points.

Here are The Citizen‘s five takeaways from the encounter between South Africa and France.

Boks show world champions’ mettle

The Springboks showcased their big-match temperament once again when it mattered the most. France are an excellent team, they had the Springboks’ number at times, but the world champions stayed in the game and pulled together.

It was a great effort from the Boks’ starting XV as well as from the 5-3 bench. They showed that big matches are won by a team performance and not by individual brilliance. The Boks took hits and absorbed pressure, dealt with a hostile crowd and still came out on top … a testament to the character of the team, when faced with adversity, they can rise above it and deliver.

Experienced Boks players showed up

The magnitude of the occasion required the experienced players to raise their hands. The experience of the Springboks pack was well documented ahead of the game, and they managed to put it on show.

When the Boks were under siege, the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermeulen, and Pieter-Steph du Toit all came with great plays in crucial phases of the game.

Backline players Jesse Kriel, Cheslin Kolbe and Damian de Allende should also be commended. The experience that this group of Springboks has gained over the years was in full display, and it’s one of the qualities that make this Bok team one of the best sides rugby has seen.

Jesse Kriel
Jesse Kriel. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

The frantic first half

The first half of the action at the Stade de France was a great advert for rugby, arguably one of the greatest, most intense 40 minute periods of rugby ever seen. There were six tries scored in the opening stanza which ended with France leading 22-19.

The French, pushed by the home crowd, were out of the blocks quickly and they put plenty of pressure on the world champions. The Boks have struggled at the start of matches in recent times but they were able to hit back quickly on this occasion and, crucially, never let the game get away from them.

They may have been under the pump at times in the first half, but they found a way to always strike when they got the chance, and went into the second period very much in the contest, when another team might have been blown away

Key moments

There were a few crucial moments that helped keep the Boks in the contest and ultimately go on to win the game.

Eben Etzebeth stuck out a hand to prevent a pass being made when France were on the attack and though he was fortunate to not be penalised by the referee, it was a big moment.

Cheslin Kolbe’s charge down of Thomas Ramos’ one conversion kick proved crucial in the end, while Handre Pollard slotting a 52m penalty with 12 minutes to go was massive.

The quick-tap free kick, which resulted in Etzebeth’s second half try, was also a big call by the team leadership. Small margins settled this thrilling Test.

Eben Etzebeth
Eben Etzebeth scored a crucial try for the Boks. Picture: RvS.Media/Sylvie Failletaz/Getty Images

The mighty Antoine Dupont

Antoine Dupont’s performance justified why his injury that put in doubt his participation in the tournament was a concern for the nation of France. The scrumhalf delivered one the best performances in his career, and he did it on the biggest stage.

Dupont dictated the match perfectly; he ran proceedings for France. The former World Rugby Player of the Year entertained the crowd, his vision and trickery were beautiful to watch. His leadership was also on point, he made good decisions that put the team in a position to win.

Despite the exit, with all he’s achieved in his career, Dupont’s star will continue to rise, and he’ll go down as one of the greats of the game.

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