South Africa clinch 3-0 series whitewash over France

Jaco Kriel of the Springboks during the 3rd Castle Lager Incoming Series Test match between South Africa and France at Emirates Airline Park on June 24, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Jaco Kriel of the Springboks during the 3rd Castle Lager Incoming Series Test match between South Africa and France at Emirates Airline Park on June 24, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Image: Getty Images
With their best defensive display of the series, the Springboks snapped their five match, 58-year losing streak at Ellis Park against France with a satisfying 35-12 win.

In the process, they sealed their first three-match series and the first time they went a full game without conceding a try under Allister Coetzee’s stewardship.

A crowd of 55820, easily the best of the series, were on hand to watch the home side record to a third consecutive win.

Coetzee’s record has now improved to seven wins from 15 matches.

There are sterner exams to follow in the form of the Rugby Championships but it is safe to say the Boks have turn the corner.

They are far from the finished product and there was a slight regression from the highs of Durban and Pretoria.

However, a team with confidence knows how to compose itself under pressure and that was the case with the Boks.

They have healed from the traumas of 2016 and should injury not rob them of key personnel, they will go into the Southern Hemisphere engagements in two months time in good shape.

The Boks had to do without captain Warren Whiteley, who was a late withdrawal because of a groin injury.

Lions loose forward Jaco Kriel slotted in seamlessly in his place while Eben Etzebeth became the 59th Springbok captain.

With Kriel’s coruscating run splitting the French defence before Jantjies converted the seventh-minute penalty, the Boks sent out a physical statement of intent.

Their kick-chasing was precise and led to the Boks’ first try from Jesse Kriel. Courtnall Skosan had harassed Nans Ducuing from a Jantjies kick, from where the French right wing sent a distressed pass to Virimi Vakatawa.

With Franco Mostert and Etzebeth bearing down on him, he coughed up possession and Kriel was on hand to dot down in the corner.

France may have been on the receiving of some extreme physicality but they dominated possession and territory without making much of it.

Offensive defence was South Africa’s watchword and it worked for them when France had deep forays into their half.

While there mistakes on attack, the Boks had a few scrum, breakdown and lineout errors.

Malcolm Marx again struggled to locate his jumpers at various times while Dreyer was given a thorough working over by Jefferson Poirot.

What the Boks did do was to make their time in the French 22 count, an example being Etzebeth’s 42nd minute try from a swanky rolling maul that confused the French forwards.

After recovering from their temporary mid-half siesta, Marx powered over the line in the 63rd minute after the Boks had weathered a French storm.

The 16-point buffer was big enough to give the Boks breathing space to deal with the expect French assault late in the game.

That they did when the French swarmed their line from a maul in the 65th minute yet they came away with nothing.

It highlighted the intensity the Boks displayed on defence and how they didn’t let up throughout the game.

Their patience and persistence were rewarded when Rudy Paige crossed over in the 76th minute after Bongi Mbonambi broke free from a rolling maul.

Scorers: South Africa: (35)Tries: Jesse Kriel, Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Rudy PaigeConversions: Elton Jantjies (3)Penalties: Jantjies (3)France: (12)Penalties: Jules Plisson (4)

BY KHANYISO TSHWAKU AT ELLIS PARK – Tiso Black Star Group

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