The last two winners of the World Rugby Player of the Year award, Antoine Dupont and Pieter-Steph du Toit, both received red cards as France beat South Africa 30-26 in a dramatic encounter .
Du Toit was rightly sent off in the first half for linking up with the head of Jonathan Danty, who was sent off and later revealed to have suffered a fractured eye socket.
The Blues immediately capitalized on the flanker’s absence, leading 13-0 thanks to Cyril Baille’s try and a Thomas Ramos brace, but the visitors fought back in impressive fashion.
Siya Kolisi touched down and Cheslin Kolbe added a conversion and penalty to reduce the backlog before Ramos gave the hosts a 16-10 lead at the break.
Then came the next big talking point of the contest. South Africa were on the attack when Faf de Klerk struck on the wing, where Kolbe was hiding. Dupont had his eyes on the ball but pulled the wing out when the Springbok leapt into the air which landed the speedster on his head.
Referee Wayne Barnes, for the second time in the match, had no choice but to card the player.
With both sides at 14, the Boks took control when Kurt-Lee Arendse landed and De Klerk kicked in a conversion and a penalty.
And after Ramos and Damian Willemse traded three points, the reigning world champions were still ahead in the closing stages, but Sipili Falatea’s try and a penalty from France the full-back picked up the win in one of the big Test matches.
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In one of the most anticipated fixtures of the Fall Nations Series, he did not disappoint. The physique was off the charts as the two teams faced off, but unfortunately for Boks Du Toit, that was literally the case.
France were already leading 3-0 thanks to Ramos when the flanker went to clear a ruck. However, he made no attempt to wrap and instead led with his head, which got him sent off.
Collision victim Danty was duly removed, but he wasn’t the only player sent off in a brutal encounter.
Fabien Galthie’s the men saw four players in total substituted through injury, with Thibaud Flament and two mainstays, Baille and Uini Atonio, also substituted, although the latter returned for the second half.
It disrupted what had, by then, been a fine French display, with Ramos adding a second three-pointer and Baille passing close for their first try, but credit must go to the Boks, who showed a formidable spirit and quality to answer.
by Jacques Niénaber the charges had shown a bit more ambition compared to recent matches, with Arendse and Kolbe both heavily involved, but it was their trusty maul who did the most damage.
They dominated France’s much-modified attacking pack and it led to a three-pointer for Kolbe before Kolisi landed from another line-up minutes later.
Ramos’ third penalty opened up a six-point buffer at the interval before the kickers exchanged efforts off the tee early in the second half.
South Africa, though down to 14 men, was however beginning to gain the upper hand, and they were soon aided by the poor discipline of their opponents.
The French star sees red
Almost immediately after star playmaker Dupont was shown a red card, the Springboks took the lead for the first time as Arendse crossed the white for a converted try.
De Klerk then extended their lead with a penalty before Ramos made it a one-point game with a quarter of the game remaining.
The Boks continued to be clinical, however, and their third kicker of the night, Willemse, made it 26-22 with 15 minutes to go.
Nienaber’s men had done a superb job of preventing France from getting into their rhythm but in the later stages Les Bleus increased the pressure.
South Africa cynically breached, resulting in a yellow card for Deon Fourie, before Falatea crossed the blank to bring France ahead.
Ramos missed the conversion but added a three-pointer shortly after to secure victory in an absolute thriller.
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