Quarter-final weekend delivered the most thrilling matches of the tournament, leaving the French players devastated and exhausted on their home turf. South Africa, a team with extensive World Cup experience, advances to the semis to face England, the last remaining team from the north. It’s safe to say that England is not the best representation of the northern teams. These quarter-finals showcased the four best teams in the world, but unfortunately, they were all pitted against each other. The Ireland-New Zealand match on Saturday would have been worthy of a World Cup final, and the same can be said for this France-South Africa match.
The match between France and South Africa was nothing short of extraordinary. The French displayed their brilliant and free-flowing style of play, but were constantly met with the unyielding defense of the Springboks. The game was played at a pace and intensity unmatched by any other match. France set the initial rhythm, but the Springboks, with their more traditional approach, denied them time and time again. Eben Etzebeth was a dominant force, terrorizing the French players with his intimidating presence. Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel also made their mark, unsettling the French midfield. While France excelled in artistic merit, it was the Springboks who knew how to secure victory. As the match progressed, France’s running game started to unravel, but they persisted until the very end, holding on to the ball until the clock ran out.
The match began with France’s confidence and hope evident in their play. They opened the scoring early on with a try from Cyril Baille. The first half was a rollercoaster of fortunes, with both teams scoring and equalizing. The Springboks capitalized on France’s weakness in catching high balls and scored two quick tries. France fought back and equalized, but ultimately finished the half with a narrow lead after a penalty. The second half followed a similar pattern, but France’s attacks became less effective as the match progressed. South Africa took control and ultimately secured a one-point lead after a powerful try from Eben Etzebeth. Despite a late surge from France, their desperation led to a knock-on, sealing South Africa’s victory.
As the clock turned red, France had one final chance to stage a comeback, but their desperate play only resulted in a knock-on. The Springboks now move forward to another final, while the French players are left to contemplate their defeat.
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