Boks tackle France

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

PARIS. — France face a tricky as­sign­ment when they get their end-ofyear Test rugby cam­paign un­der­way against South Africa at the Stade de France to­day.

De­spite play­ing on their home turf, Les Bleus head into this fix­ture as the un­der­dogs as they have lost their last six en­coun­ters against the Spring­boks with four of those defeats com­ing in the past 18 months.

Adding to that, the French have de­liv­ered a mixed bag of results in 2018 al­though there have been some pos­i­tive signs un­der the guid­ance of head coach Jac­ques Brunel, who took charge of the team at the start of the year.

They only won two matches in this year’s Six Na­tions - against Eng­land and Italy - but ran Ire­land, Scot­land and Wales close. How­ever, they bat­tled in their three-Test se­ries against New Zealand in June and even­tu­ally lost all three of those matches.

With just two triumphs from eight Tests so far this year, France back-row Arthur Itur­ria high­lighted the im­por­tance of se­cur­ing a vic­tory against the Boks. “We have to win,” he said. “We have very good play­ers and a good sys­tem. If we bring all the in­gre­di­ents to­gether at the same time I don’t see why we can­not ri­val the best teams in the world.

I hope that will be the case on Satur­day evening.”

Mean­while, the Spring­boks are also un­der pressure and can ill af­ford an­other loss af­ter suf­fer­ing a nar­row de­feat to Eng­land last week­end in the open­ing match of their four-Test tour.

There was plenty of con­tro­versy in the af­ter­math of that match when ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner failed to pe­nalise Eng­land fly-half Owen Far­rell for what looked like an il­le­gal tackle on Spring­bok cen­tre An­dre Ester­huizen within goal­kick­ing range.

Al­though that penalty would have se­cured a win for South Africa, they should have beaten Eng­land com­fort­ably as they had the bulk of the pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory.

The Spring­boks will be de­ter­mined to im­prove on that show­ing and their coach, Rassie Eras­mus, is aware that his side have to im­prove their fin­ish­ing against Les Bleus.

Eras­mus de­scribed France as a dan­ger­ous side and said they will pro­vide the Spring­boks with for­mi­da­ble op­po­si­tion to­day.

“The French are very phys­i­cal and skil­ful, and we will have to be good on de­fence and also be dis­ci­plined,” said Eras­mus.

“The con­di­tions here in the north­ern hemi­sphere de­mand a dif­fer­ent ap­proach and while we cre­ated a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties last week we have to bet­ter with our ex­e­cu­tion.” — AFP.

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