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Resilient South Africa stun host France in quarterfinals at Rugby World Cup

South Africa Celebrates South Africa Celebrates - The Canadian Press

PARIS (AP) — Defending champion South Africa knocked France out of its home Rugby World Cup with a performance of sheer resilience to cling on 29-28 in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

France played all the attacking rugby for the first 60 minutes, and had three tries in the first half, including two from prop Cyril Baille, who had France ahead as early as the fourth minute. South Africa also had three tries in the first 40, but all of them came against the run of play.

Thomas Ramos kicked France into a 22-19 lead at halftime with South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth in the sin-bin.

Ramos pushed that advantage to 25-19 in the 54th and France appeared in control with brilliant scrumhalf and captain Antoine Dupont pulling the strings on his return from a broken cheekbone and the home fans baying for a French victory at Stade de France.

But the Springboks kept grinding despite a big territorial disadvantage and Etzebeth’s barging run for a try next to the posts in the 67th minute suddenly swung the game in favor of the reigning champions with Handre Pollard’s conversion.

Pollard hit a penalty over from his own half for a critical four-point gap in the 69th.

France kept coming and South Africa, which defended for most of the game, held it out, allowing Ramos only to close it to a one-point game with seven minutes to go.

South Africa finally found a territorial foothold in the final minutes and France had to attack from deep in the last play of the game after the final hooter.

The ball was dislodged in a France drive into South Africa’s half and Springboks wing Kurt-Lee Arendse scooped it up and hoofed it out to confirm a semifinal against England next weekend. New Zealand will play Argentina in the other semi.

The French players and nearly 80,000 fans on the outskirts of Paris were stunned, and Dupont dropped his protective scrum cap on the field and sunk to one knee at the end.


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