South Africa's Mbongeni Mbonami celebrates winning the match against France with the team at Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France, November 10 2018. Picture: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN
South Africa's Mbongeni Mbonami celebrates winning the match against France with the team at Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France, November 10 2018. Picture: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN

Paris — Bok coach Rassie Erasmus said on Sunday he was impressed by the team’s attitude to claim an over-time victory one week after an agonising one-point defeat to England.

The Springboks beat the French on Saturday 29-26 thanks to an 85th-minute try from hooker Bongi Mbonambi despite trailing by four points going into the final 30 seconds of the game.

In the Springboks’ opening fixture of their November Test series, they were denied a late and potentially match-winning penalty goal following a controversial tackle from English flyhalf Owen Farrell and lost 12-11 at Twickenham.

"Last week we took it through 15 phases to get a penalty to win the game [and it didn’t happen] and this week we had to score a try to win the match," Erasmus said. "It was definitely not the most clinical performance but the team was gutsy enough and it feels much better [than last week]."

Erasmus avoided a third straight defeat thanks to Mbonambi’s efforts, which would have been his worst run of results since taking over from Allister Coetzee as coach of the national team in March.

The 36-time former international takes his squad to Edinburgh to face Scotland on Saturday before finishing their November tour against Wales a week later.

Meanwhile, French hopes of posting a morale-boosting win in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup were dashed in the dramatic finish to Saturday’s Test, much to the bitter disappointment of both their coach and captain.

"It’s a cruel scenario," coach Jacques Brunel told reporters after France squandered a 14-point lead when the Springboks fought back to win the Test with the dramatic last-gasp try at the Stade de France.

"We had started the game well. We have a good first half, during which we attacked; put them under severe pressure.

"In the last minutes, we did not know how to protect our lead. We lack experience and perspective," said Brunel.

"We needed more control and patience. We hurried and the Springboks played well by isolating us and recovering a penalty," Brunel said.

France led 26-22 in the last minute and were on the attack, when Bok flanker Francois Louw forced a turnover that set up a drive upfield, which gained ground thanks to four penalties and ended with a try scored from a driving maul.

It was a heartbreaking end for an out-of-form France side looking for a major scalp to put their World Cup preparations on the right track after winning just twice in eight Tests in 2018.

"On the whole, we are satisfied with what we were able to do," captain Guilhem Guirado said. "Unfortunately, we ruined it in the last minutes. The changing room is devastated.

"We had this match against SA in our hands and we let it slip. I hope this will serve as a
lesson."

AFP, Reuters