Rugby Union: Springboks make their escape

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Midi-Pyrenees. . 15

South Africa. . .18

IT TOOK a 49-metre penalty goal by Theo Van Rensburg in the dying minutes to give the Springboks a narrow victory in their third tour match here yesterday.

The South Africans, largely outplayed by the enterprising Midi- Pyrenees side, failed to impose themselves. Only their scrum-half Garth Wright, No 8 Christian Strauss, and the promising young centre Heinrich Fuls showed real international class and in another tough encounter they lost two key players through injury - Adolf Malan and Fuls.

The locals took first honours with two penalties by Benoit Bellot. Naas Botha's up-and- unders, though, kept the French defence under pressure, and the South African captain was eventually rewarded with a drop goal after 25 minutes.

The visitors began to stretch the French defence by moving the ball to their wings, and in the 32nd minute their determined left- winger, James Small, crossed for a try in the corner.

Their second try came eight minutes after the break when the old master, Danie Gerber, scored near the posts after Botha had charged down Bellot's clearing kick. Gerber showed more of his canny professional skills minutes later. Deliberately obstructing the French backs when they looked certain to score, Gerber gave away an easy penalty which Bellot kicked from 10 metres out.

The slim fly-half from Graulhet kept his team in the race with a further penalty, and the French backs started to run riot. Yet another Springbok obstruction, with the French haring for the goal- line, levelled the scores at 15-15 with 10 minutes to play.

The French then unleashed several razor-sharp attacks and only handling errors prevented three certain tries. The Springboks, meanwhile, had only their kickers to depend on. Botha let fly with a drop-goal attempt, but Van Rensburg scored the decisive points with one minute to play.

MIDI-PYRENEES: H Mola (Toulouse); P Garrigues (Graulhet), M Marfaing (Toulouse), H Couffignal (Colomiers), D Dal Pos (Colomiers); B Bellot (Graulhet), F Galthie (Colomiers, capt); F Ancelin (Colomiers), R Tremoulet (Graulhet), C Califano (Toulouse), H Miorin (Toulouse), R Pelous (Graulhet), T Maset (Toulouse), N Hallinger (Colomiers), A Carminati (Castres). Replacements: F Rui (Castres) for Bellot (72 min); G Pages (Castres) for R Pelous (49 min); J Usson (Valence d'Agen) for Ancelin (59 min).

SOUTH AFRICA: T Van Rensburg (Transvaal); J Small (Transvaal), D Gerber (W Province), H Fuls (Transvaal), J Olivier (N Transvaal); N Botha (N Transvaal, capt), G Wright (Transvaal); J Styger (Orange Free State), H Roberts (Transvaal), W Hills (N Transvaal); A Malan (N Transvaal), D Hattingh (N Transvaal), W Bartmann (Natal), A Richter (N Transvaal), C Strass (W Province). Replacements: H Le Roux (Transvaal) for Fuls (71 min); J Truscott (N Transvaal) for Malan (28 min).

Referee: P Robin (Perigord-Agenais).

Scores: Bellot (pen, 11 min) 0-3, Bellot (pen, 22 min, 0-6), Botha (drop goal, 25 min) 3-6, Olivier (try, 32 min) 8-6, Gerber/Van Rensburg (try/conv, 48 min) 15-6, Bellot (pen, 55 min) 15-9, Bellot (pen, 62 min) 15-12, Bellot (pen, 68 min)

15-15, Van Rensburg (pen, 79 min) 18-15.