Springboks’ 37-14 win over France at Loftus on Saturday night was far from polished but it gave the long suffering South African fans something positive to look forward to in the near future.
The victory, which was a result of a first half try by Jaco Kriel and two in the second half by Ross Cronje and Jan Serfontein after the break, stopped the Springboks’ three match losing streak they suffered at the hands of England, Italy and Wales in November last year.
South Africa were also awarded a penalty try in the 59th minute which led to France fullback Brice Dulin yellow carded.
It ensured that they started this season on a positive in a match where coach Allister Coetzee started with four debutants in Andries Cotzee and Raymond Rhule at the back and Courtnall Skosan and Ross Cronje among the forwards.
In the closing stages, Dillyn Leyds was the fifth debutant when he came on for Rhule.
Cronje will for sure get the most of the credit for his second half try that effectively took the game away from the French but Coetzee, Rhule and Skosan will also look back at their debuts with fond memories.
Warren Whitely, who was captaining the Springboks for the first time, and some of the senior players in this predominantly young team will also look back at this match with a sense of satisfaction.
Though there were some mistakes on the part of the Boks at times, especially early on in the second half which allowed France to score their second try, coach Coetzee will definitely take more positives from this much needed victory.
Elton Jantjies got the scoreboard ticking in the 12th minute when he found the middle of the poles from a penalty kick after France were penalised for off-side offence.
He increased South Africa’s lead to six points two minutes later, also from a penalty, after France prop Jefferson Poirot was penalised for foul play.
First try of the game came just after the hour mark from the brilliance of Jaco Kriel, who side stepped his way into the France 22m area after he was set-up by his Lions team-mate Andries Coetzee for Jantjies to score the conversion.
South Africa’s try celebrations were short-lived as France scored their first two minutes later through Henry Chavancy who benefited from the bounce of the ball to touch down and allow Jules Plison to convert.
Jantjies scored his third penalty of the match on the stroke of halt time to give South Africa a narrow 16-7 lead going into the break.
France came out fighting in the second half where they put Springboks under pressure and it came as little surprise when Baptiste Serin scored their second try of the match for Plisson to convert.
South Africa scored their second try of the match through debutant Ross Cronje who was given the ball by his captain Warren Whitelely to break the French defence and touch allowing Jantjies to convert.
Springboks all but ensured this victory in the 69th minute through Jan Serfontein who took a telling run after he was passed the ball by substitute Francois Hougaard before Jantjies did what he does best with the boot.
Tries: Kriel, Penalty Try, Cronje, Serfontein,
Conversions: Jantjies (3)
Penalties: Jantjies (3)
Tries: Chavancy, Serin
Conversions: Plison (2)
– TMG Digital/TMG Sport