In what was an uninspiring encounter‚ South Africa A emerged 36-28 winners over the French Barbarians in the first international rugby match to be played at the majestic Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday night.
Played in front of a small but lively crowd‚ the match failed to move into top gear as both sets of players committed many errors throughout that contributed to the contest failing to liven up.
South Africa, in the end, scored six tries with Harold Vorster and Lwazi Mvovo grabbing two each‚ and the score could have been even higher if Lionel Cronje had his kicking boots on as he failed to convert on three occasions.
The other tries for South Africa A were scored by Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Makazole Mapimpi.
The French Barbarians got the scoreboard ticking as early as the third minute when scrum-half Yann Lesgourgues scored the first try of the match for their captain and former Sharks flyhalf‚ Frederic Michalak‚ to convert.
South Africa nearly scored their first try of the match in the 11th minute but Mapimpi was tackled on the edge of the try line after he was given the ball by Lwazi Mvovo‚ who broke through the middle.
From the resultant lineout barely a minute later‚ South Africa A registered their first try of the match through the effort of Mvovo on the right side of the field which allowed Lionel Cronje convert.
The French looked impressive early on in the game and Michalak scored their second try after 14 minutes‚ which he converted himself as they increased their lead.
After 21 minutes‚ Mapimpi made up for the earlier disappointment of being tackled close to the try-line by touching down following a pass by Franco Smith after the SA A turned over possession from a ruck.
The South Africas took the lead for the first time in the match in the 24th minute when Notshe crossed the line after he received the ball from Smith who took advantage of a spilled ball from a line out.
Cronje‚ who failed to convert from Mapimpi’s try‚ disappointed again with the boot as he could not find the middle of the poles after Notshe’s try for his second miss of the match after three attempts.
As the match progressed‚ the confidence of South Africa A continued to grow and Harold Voster was released by a pass from Uzair Cassiem to score in the corner‚ but Cronje missed his third conversion of the day.
Just before the break‚ the French Barbarians scored a try through Anthony Belleau with Michalak kicking the conversion as they took advantage of some sloppy defending by SA A to close the gap to just one point.
It took 14 minutes in the second half for a try to be scored and it was the French Barbarians who retook the lead through Belleau‚ who registered his second try of the match‚ followed by Michalak’s conversion.
Vorster also registered his second try in the 67th minute following after Ruan Combrink’s cross-kick and Cronje scored his second conversion as the hosts regained their lead by one point.
The match was secured four minutes from time when Mvovo scored his second of the match with Fred Zeilinga converting in front of the poles‚ and SA A will be looking to win the series next weekend at Orlando Stadium.
South Africa (22) 36
Tries: Mvovo (2)‚ Mapimpi‚ Notshe‚ Voster (2)
Conversions: Cronje (2)‚ Zeilinga
French Barbarians (21) 28
Tries: Lesgourgues‚ Michalak‚ Belleau (2)
Conversions: Frederic Michalak (4)