French fire doused

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The Independent Online
The Springboks revived sweet memories by outclassing a depleted French side 22-12 in the first of two rugby union Tests on a wet and windy afternoon in Bordeaux yesterday. It was the first time the two teams had met since South Africa beat France 19-15 on another rainy day in their World Cup semi-final in June 1995.

The visitors built their victory in the first half, with two tries by James Small and Andre Joubert and three penalties by the fly-half Henry Honiball. As the French had only managed two penalties by winger Richard Dourthe, the teams changed sides with the Springboks comfortably leading 19-6.

The home team tried their best to fight back into the match in the second half but failed to breach a tight South African defence and had to be content with two more penalties by Dourthe while Honiball scored one more for the world champions.

France, who had lost no fewer than six first-choice players in the build- up to the match, made a fine start, opening the scoring in the second minute thanks to a Dourthe penalty. But the Springboks reacted in the next minute with a run along the line by the winger Small for a try which Honiball failed to convert.

The South Africans stayed in the lead from then on and when their hosts tried to react, fine kicking by the South African fullback Joubert sent them back into their half. A fine move sparked by the scrum-half Joos van der Westhuizen led to a dive in the corner by Joubert for the match's second try in the 32nd minute.

"You must give France credit for never giving up but I think we deserved to win," said the Springboks' coach, Andre Markgraaff.

France: J-L Sadourny; R Dourthe, G Bouic, S Glas, D Berty; L Mazas, P Carbonneau; C Califano, M de Rougemont, F Tournaire, H Miorin, F Pelous, P Benetton, A Benazzi (capt), T Labrousse.

South Africa: A Joubert; J Small, J Mulder, H Le Roux, J Olivier; H Honiball, J van der Westhuizen; D Theron, J Dalton, A Garvey, K Wiese, M Andrews, R Kruger, G Teichmann (capt), A Venter.

Referee: Brian Stirling (Ireland).