Habana benefits as French feel full force of Springboks

South Africa 27 France 13
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The Independent Online

The French were beaten out of sight here yesterday. Now for the off-field battle. That might not be quite as straightforward. If ever a team stood up to be counted for their coach, it was the Springboks. They dared to defy not just the French but their own union's president, Brian van Rooyen. "Get past us now" was their clear message. If Van Rooyen is smart, he won't even try.

The backdrop to this comprehensive win was the threat by Jake White to resign over political interference with his team selections. The story leaked out hours before the Test.

It was no coincidence that several South Africans played their best game for their country. Van Rooyen had suggested that if White wanted to resign, a black coach would replace him. But the president looks to be in a mess, because the Springboks had this match wrapped up just after the break.

Their forwards tore into the French. It was their hunger, their appetite, their craving, to impress and stamp their personalities on this match which was the most compelling point of all.

The wing Bryan Habana scored a try early in each half through his coruscating pace. His firsttry owed much to a superb run at pace by the full-back Percy Montgomery. The second came eight minutes after half-time, when the French captain, Dimitri Yachvili, threw a pass straight to him, which is never wise. Habana raced 55 metres to score and the game was over.

South Africa's second try of the game was down to Habana's fellow wing Jean de Villiers, who reads a game like a book. De Villiers deflected a pass, reacted quicker than anyone to catch the rebound, and ran 45 metres to score at the posts.

Montgomery's goal-kicking did the rest, with all three conversions and two penalty goals. The lock Albert van den Berg was supreme in the line-out and got around the field superbly; the prop Lawrence Sephaka justified his inclusion with some solid scrummaging and powerful tackling; the lock Victor Matfield was similarly devoted to the cause; and the South African scrum was far more solid with CJ van der Linde at tighthead.

The French simply could not get a foothold in the game. They were denied primary possession at the set phases and smashed aside for much of the time in the loose. The determination of the South Africans to prevail gave the French a torrid afternoon, and the Springboks led by a commanding 20-6 at the interval.

It was a disjointed second half due to a plethora of replacements and because South Africa had the game won. Frédéric Michalakscored from a drive over the line and converted, but it did not begin to mask the home side's superiority.

South Africa:

P Montgomery; J de Villiers (J Fourie, 65), M Joubert, D W Barry, B Habana; J van der Westhuyzen (B Russell, 71), E Januarie (F du Preez, 54); L Sephaka (G Steenkamp, 59), J Smit (capt), CJ van der Linde, A van den Berg, V Matfield, S Burger, D Rossouw (J van Niekerk, 54), J Cronje.


N Brusque; V Clerc, Y Jauzion, D Traille (B Baby, 57), C Heymans; F Michalak, D Yachvili (capt); S Marconnet (O Milloud, 57), W Servat (S Bruno, 57), P de Villiers, T Privat (G Lamboley, 47), P Papé, R Martin, Y Nyanga (O Magne, 47), J Bonnaire.

Referee: D Courtney (Ireland).