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Rugby World Cup 2023: France 28-29 South Africa

South Africa break French hearts in a tense game as they advance to the semi final

The game started off with many box kicks from Antoine Dupont and a near early try from French winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey but it was a dead ball by South African winger Kurt-Lee Arendse. France wouldn’t need to wait long though after a powerful maul from the lineout saw assists from Dupont and Damian Penaud to give loosehead prop Cyrill Baille the try right down the corner, full back Thomas Ramos converted and France had an early 7-0 lead. Les Bleus were on the verge of a second try seconds after, but Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth was able to knock the ball back much to the frustration of the French crowd. After a box kick from South African scrum half Cobus Reinach, no one had the ball until Arendse collected the ball and would run all the way to score. Fly half Manie Libbok who has received some criticism for his goal kicking was on target and the World Champions were level. After a tense physical battle, South African loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff was penalised and Ramos had the chance to put France back in the lead with a long penalty from just under 50 metres, but his kick was just short. South Africa yet again bounced back at France after a crossfield kick from Libbok which was collected by inside centre Damian de Allende who was brought down by Ramos but after a couple of phases Reinach passed the ball to Allende who found the space to score to give his team the lead for the first time in this game. Libbok missed the conversion, so the score remained 7-12 to the Springboks. France however would respond in fantastic fashion; they were awarded a penalty and it was the French’s star man Dupont who made a quick tap and made a big pass to hooker Peato Mauvaka who was able to score. Ramos had a chance for two points but in a rare turn of events his kick was charged down by Cheslin Kolbe so the game stayed level. This game was becoming a festival of tries, a scuffed pass from Baille led to Allende intercepting the ball to then grubber kicking which was picked up by Kolbe who had clear space and went over the line for a try. Libbok managed to extend South Africa’s lead with the conversion. Le Bleus knew what was at stake in this game, they would yet again respond with a try and it was Baille once again who managed to get over to score and Ramos would score an easy two points and France were once again level. Before halftime, Eben Etzebeth would receive a yellow card under review for foul play. Ramos would go for goal and his kick was successful and France lead 22-19 at half time. 

Before the start of the second half referee Ben O’Keefe would inform Springbok captain Siya Kolisi that Etzebeth’s yellow card would remain a yellow card. The first twelve minutes of the second half was non-stop physicality. Eventually, South Africa were penalised in the scrum and Ramos had the chance to extend France’s lead and he was successful. Springbok replacement Kwagga Smith was penalised for not releasing. Mattieu Jalibert had an attempt to kick the ball into touch, but his kick was scuffed and the ball went backwards. Despite all the hard work Dupont was penalised in the French 5 metre line for not releasing. There would be success from the tap and go as Eben Etzebeth was able to crash through the French defence to score a try and it was up to replacement Handre Pollard to get the conversion which he was successful and it was a one-point lead to the Springboks. A penalty was awarded to South Africa in which Pollard went for the three points on the halfway line and it was a perfect kick right down the middle to make the score 25-29 to South Africa. France would regain some momentum though after Faf de Klerk was penalised for being offside. Ramos would go for goal and would get three points. A massive run from Penaud and Fickou lifted French fans off their feet but the ball was lost and went into Springbok hands. The clock went red and the ball returned to France but a knock on from replacement Reda Wardi would end the game.

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