Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


Springboks v France: The four areas that will decide RWC quarter-final

A tight tussle should be on the cards and the team that progresses should be the one that executes best on the day.


The Springboks and France front up in a massive Rugby World Cup quarter-final at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Sunday night (9pm), which by the end of it will either see the number two or three side in the world dumped out of the competition.

The hosts will be slight favourites with a partisan crowd at their back, but the experienced Bok team has done this before in Japan four years ago and they will look to draw on that experience to try get through.

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A tight tussle should be on the cards and the team that progresses should be the one that executes best on the day. Here are four key phases of the upcoming match:

Set-pieces

A massive battle is set to be waged at the set-pieces as two sides who take pride in their forward driven performances go head to head. At the lineouts the Boks should have the edge over the French with the superb partnership of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert coming up against Cameron Woki and Thibaud Flament.

The scrum battle looks like it will be a tight one and the Boks may need to back their bench to get the upper hand in the second half, while at the breakdown Duane Vermeulen has been added to the side to improve their battle for the ball.

Attack

Although both the Boks and France are forward driven teams, they both feature thrilling attacking players in their backline that will be looking to break the game open. France boasts the tournament’s top scorer in fullback Thomas Ramos and top try scorer in right wing Damian Penaud, while the return of maverick scrumhalf Antoine Dupont will add to their game.

The Boks have backed their exciting back three of Damian Willemse, Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse, while Cobus Reinach has snuck in at scrumhalf ahead of Faf de Klerk and he will want to partner well with the attacking Manie Libbok.

Damian Willemse
Damian Willemse is an attacking threat from fullback. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Defence

Both the Springboks and France pride themselves on their defence and the quarterfinal may just be decided on who will be able to hold out best over the 80 minutes. SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus admitted earlier in the week that the French defence was a big key point that the Boks were focusing on.

 France have only let in five tries over their four pool games, while the Boks have conceded just four tries. But the Boks will still feel they have a point to prove after they conceded three tries against Tonga in their last outing. France’s Gregory Alldritt and the Boks Pieter-Steph du Toit will both be key for their side’s defensive efforts.

Kicking

The kicking battle is going to be a massive one with the Boks having backed the more attacking Manie Libbok over the experienced Handre Pollard. Although Libbok’s goal kicking is questionable, his attacking kicking out of hand is superb and he will be looking to pin France on the back foot throughout, with Pollard set to make an appearance in the second half.

Cobus Reinach and Damian Willemse will also have important parts to play. France has the dead eye boot of Thomas Ramos along with scrumhalf Antoine Dupont and flyhalf Matthieu Jallibert who they will be relying on for their kicking game.

Thomas Ramos
Thomas Ramos will handle the goal-kicking for France. Picture: Christian Liewig – Corbis/Getty Images