French fight back for famous win over ill-disciplined Springboks

France 20 South Africa 13
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The Independent Online

World Champions South Africa suffered a second successive defeat on their northern-hemisphere tour as France triumphed in Toulouse last night.

Les Bleus overturned a 13-3 deficit with Julien Dupuy, the scrum half, kicking four penalties, his replacement Morgan Parra adding a fifth and Vincent Clerc completing a flowing move with a try.

Morne Steyn – one of two players sent to the sin-bin for South Africa – kicked a penalty, a drop goal and converted John Smit's first-half try for the Tri-Nations champions, who lost to Leicester last week.

"It was really a very good evening. The most satisfying thing was our control of the game, physically and tactically," the France coach, Marc Lièvremont, said. South Africa's Peter de Villiers added: "The French were really on top of the game. They're the guys who deserved to win."

The Springboks vice-captain Victor Matfield paid tribute to the physical strength of the French forwards. "Physicality is part of the game and most of the time the guys who win the physical battle win the game. They had more intensity than us. They were just quicker by one second in everything," he said.

"We always knew it was going to be tough coming to France where we haven't won for 12, 13 years. We knew they were very passionate at home. They came out firing."

South Africa included prop Tendai Mtawarira last night, although "The Beast", who was born and raised in Zimbabwe but made his Springboks debut last year, has had his eligibility through residency criteria questioned by South Africa's sports ministry this week.

Steyn cancelled out Dupuy's opening penalty before putting the visitors in front with a drop goal. The Springboks' lead became 10 points when William Servat's wayward throw five metres from his own line cleared intended target Imanol Harinordoquy and fell to Smit, who dropped over the line for the game's opening try, which Steyn converted.

France immediately responded, however, with Thierry Dusautoir, Maxime Mermoz and his midfield colleague Yann David punching holes in the Springboks defence before a neat offload from Francois Trinh-Duc allowed Clerc to score.

Steyn was sent to the sin-bin on the stroke of half-time for a deliberate trip on Clerc. Dupuy was successful with the resulting penalty to cut the deficit to two points before two further penalties put the hosts into a four-point lead.

Ryan Kankowski, became the second South African to be sent to the sin-bin after handling on the ground but Parra hooked the resulting penalty wide. He did, however, stroke an easy chance through the posts to extend the advantage to seven and seal victory.

France D Traille; V Clerc, Y David, M Mermoz, C Heymans; F Trinh-Duc, J Dupuy; F Barcella, W Servat, N Mas; L Nallet, R Millo-Chluski; T Dusautoir, I Harinordoquy, L Picamoles. Replacements: S Chabal for David, 56; M Medard for Heymans, 76; M Parra for Dupuy, 66; S Marconnet for Mas, 49; D Szarzewski for Nallet, 56; J Bonnaire for Harinordoquy, 57.

South Africa Z Kirchner; JP Pietersen, J Fourie, A Jacobs, B Habana; M Steyn, F du Preez; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J Smit; B Botha, V Matfield; H Brussow, S Burger, R Kankowski. Replacements: W Olivier for Jacobs, 69; CJ van der Linde for Mtawarira, 54; A Strauss for du Plessis, 70; A Bekker for Botha, 7; D Rossouw for Burger, 47.

Referee: W Barnes (Eng).