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From Planet Rugby 24 June 2017

South Africa secured a 3-0 series whitewash of France with a 35-12 victory at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Springbok tries from Jesse Kriel, Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx and Rudy Paige proved too much for France who got on the board courtesy of four penalties from Jules Plisson.

Crucial to the Boks victory was their dominance at the breakdown area and their uncompromising defence.

The French managed to upset the Bok scrum and lineout but had no try to show for their efforts as they ran out of steam in the second half exposing their lack of stamina.

With a convincing series win under the belt, the Springboks have gone some way in exorcising the demons of yesteryear, in which they lost a record eight out of 12 games.

Allister Coetzee has delivered on a SARU ultimatum which demanded he win the series 3-0 in order to keep his job. But Coetzee will be the first to admit the French were below-par throughout the series and that the Boks’ real test will come in the Rugby Championship beginning in August.

The Springboks’ opening try came after Virimi Vakatawa was put in a tight spot when he had to chase back towards his own try-line to collect an errant pass from a teammate. Jean-Luc du Preez and Franco Mostert combined well to hold up Vakatawa and then Ruan Dreyer stole the ball before passing to Kriel who finished well in the corner. It was a classic case of the Boks forcing the error through pressure and capitalising.

Plisson kept les Bleus in touch with successive penalties but Elton Jantjies cancelled this out with two penalties of his own to stretch the lead back to 10 at 16-6.

Plisson’s penalty after the hooter reduced the deficit to a converted try as the Boks took a 16-9 lead in to the interval.

Soon after the resumption of the second half, the Boks scored through a well-executed lineout move. It was a innovative piece of play with Jan Serfontein collecting the lineout before switching the ball to Etzebeth who, with the momentum of his pack in support, crashed over to give South Africa a 21-9 early second-half lead.

Plisson responded with a penalty with les Bleus captain Guilhem Guirado for some reason opting to kick for poles when surely going for the try made more sense.

The home side extended their lead when Marx showed good game awareness to touch the ball on the post after sustained forward pressure from the Boks. Steven Kitshoff made a big impact off the bench and was central to the build-up that led to the try.

Substitute scrum-half Paige, in his first appearance of the series, got himself on the scoresheet after Bongi Mbonambi broke off the back of a scrum before producing an excellent offload for the onrushing Paige to dot down. Jantjies converted as the match ended at 35-12 to the Boks.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Kriel, Etzebeth, Marx, Paige
Cons: Jantjies 3
Pens: Jantjies 3

For France:
Pens: Plisson 4

South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Lood de Jager, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Nans Ducuing, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Clement Maynadier, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Francois Trinh Duc, 23 Vincent Rattez

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

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