DURBAN, June 17- The Springboks’ defence laid the platform for a series winning 37-15 performance against France in the second Test in front of 40 000 fans at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday evening.
For a large part of the second half, France laid siege to the Springbok try line but the Boks held their own for long spells even though the opposition were able to string multi-phase plays together with increasing intensity.
To crown their brave efforts, the Boks ran the French ragged at the end to sign off in style for a series, following their first Test win at Loftus.
In early play, both sides looked to carry the ball up with short bursts up the middle of the field until France sprung a raid down the left channels where the Springbok defence was caught napping. Some crisp inter-passing was splendidly rounded off by French fullback Scott Spedding despite the desperate last-gasp tackling attempt at the corner flag by Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand called on television match official Rowan Kitt of England to review Spedding’s effort as it initially seemed that the Frenchman may have had a foot in touch. Once the try was confirmed, scrumhalf Baptiste Serin added the conversion from the touchline (7-0).
The Boks struck back almost immediately with a fifth-minute penalty by flyhalf Elton Jantjies (7-5).
The French again managed to breach the Bok defence out wide in the left channel and came close to scoring but a kick ahead evaded the touchdown effort of Spedding.
Rightwing Raymond Rhule and outside centre Lionel Mapoe had the Bok supporters on the edge of their seats when they sparked an attack from their own 22m line. The French defence eventually checked the Boks 10 metres from the tryline and averted danger.
The Boks lost Oupa Mohoje, their openside flanker, through injury and was stretchered off the field. He was replaced by Jean-Luc du Preez.
Midway through the first half, the Springboks grabbed the lead for the first time in the match after a Jan Serfontein try, which Jantjies converted after his conversion attempt hit the upright and bounced over the crossbar. It was a fine team effort with Mapoe and flanker Siya Kolisi providing the finishing touches before sending Serfontein clear (10-7).
Three minutes later, there was some more adventurous play from the Boks with eighth man Warren Whiteley leading the charge but an infringement on the ground won France relief with a penalty, 15 metres from their try line.
A period of sporadic play followed as both sides looked to attack without any success and the passage of play came to an abrupt end when Kolisi held on to an ankle-high intercept and sprinted clear of the French defence. Jantjies landed the conversion, and then four minutes later, added a second penalty (20-7).
In the remaining first-half play, the Boks managed to pin Les Bleus down in their own half and three minutes from the end won a scrum penalty which Jantjies guided through the posts for a 16-point lead (23-7).
Just after the halftime break, each team spurned penalty opportunities after which France held out for a 28-phase movement in the opposition’s 22m area but the Boks defence stood firm in the face of a series of pick-and-gos.
France followed up that up soon afterwards with a nine-phase move but still couldn’t breach the stubborn Bok rear-guard.
However, they should have made their ascendancy count when they were awarded a five-metre penalty which they opted to run. A mere metre from the whitewash, they lost the ball after a wild pass which the Boks gratefully scooped up.
Once the Boks bravely weathered the storm, managed to transfer play to the opposite end of the field without really threatening a further score. However, once the Boks were driven back into the own half, flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc goaled a penalty to reduce the deficit to 13 points in the 64th minute (23-10).
Before the restart, the Boks made a raft of changes and the impact was almost immediate and one of the replacements, prop Coenie Oosthuizen, broke through two tackling attempts for the side’s third try. Jantjies converted (30-10).
The French responded with telling effect after the Boks failed to gather from the kick-off. The Boks battled to contain the raid and 70′ outside Damian Penaud made it count when he dashed in for an unconverted try (30-15).
At the end, Man of the Match Kolisi again intervened with great authority and sent Jantjies in for the side’s fourth converted try (37-17).
Scorers: South Africa 37 (23): Tries: Jan Serfontein, Siya Kolisi, Coenraad Oosthuizen, Elton Jantjies. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (4). Penalties: Elton Jantjies (3)
France 15 (7): Tries: Scott Spedding, Damian Penaud, Conversion: Baptiste Serin. Penalty: Francois Trinh-Duc