5 talking points: France v Springboks

Bongi Mbonambi celebrates after scoring the match-winning try against France (Gallo Images)
Bongi Mbonambi celebrates after scoring the match-winning try against France (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 29-26 win over France in Paris:

1. Bongi steals the show in Paris

Springbok replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi stole the show when he scored the match-winning try off a driving maul in the 85th minute.

Mbonambi was central to the Springbok fightback in the dying moments when he calmly executed a number of accurate lineout throws to help set up the platform from which the Boks scored.

This would have done wonders for Mbonambi’s confidence as he’d had a tough time of late. He was hauled off at half-time of Western Province’s Currie Cup final defeat to the Sharks after a lineout horror show, while his confidence perhaps also took a knock in the Rugby Championship when he was replaced in a Test against Australia shortly after an errant lineout throw led to a Wallabies try.

2. A late slice of luck aids Boks

Replacement flank Francois Louw gave the Boks a lifeline when he won a penalty on the ground with time almost up.

But all seemed lost when Elton Jantjies failed to find touch with the ensuing clearance, before French winger Damian Penaud made a crucial error by touching the sideline as he tried to field the ball.

There was some confusion as to whether time was up on the clock, but after consulting with the officials, Welsh referee Nigel Owens said the lineout had to take place as Penaud had put his foot on the touchline seconds before the clock hit the 80-minute mark.

All Penaud had to do was control the ball for a few seconds before taking it out.

This slice of luck gave the Boks the lifeline they needed as they romped over after a few dominant lineout drives.

3. High hit on Kolbe goes unpunished

The Springboks thought they had hit the front when replacement back Cheslin Kolbe went over in the 69th minute.

However, upon further review, the try was disallowed as replays showed Kolbe had lost the ball in the tackle as he was about to dot down.

What the replays also showed was a high tackle on Kolbe and the Springboks can feel aggrieved that they were not awarded a penalty try.

4. Faf’s questionable scrum put-ins

At first, I thought my eyes were deceiving me but as the Test wore on I realised Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was putting the ball under the flank’s feet at a few scrums.

As can be seen in the tweet below, De Klerk throws the ball under Pieter-Steph du Toit’s feet (Du Toit had already shifted to flank by that stage) to get a quick scrum feed.

We all know by know that scrumhalves put the ball in skew at scrum time, but surely throwing it under the flanker’s feet is not allowed!?

5. A feel-good Bok victory, but...

There were no doubt many positives after the Springboks sneaked a come-from-behind victory.

The Boks were down 23-9 at one stage in the second half and credit much be given for the manner in which they fought back.

Their scrum remains solid and the lineouts were vastly improved from the previous week’s Test at Twickenham.

Mbonambi's performance was mentioned above, while flyhalf Handre Pollard was also flawless off the tee, slotting two conversions and five penalties for a 19-point haul.

Louw also made a big impact and the Bok pack appeared to function better when Du Toit moved to blindside flank, with RG Snyman coming in at lock.

However, the negatives must also be highlighted.

I thought the tactical kicking of De Klerk was below-par, with the scrumhalf often overdoing the box kick.

The Boks also remain prone to making silly errors on attack.

France's first try came after the hosts had countered up-field after Du Toit had inexcusably knocked on deep inside the French 22m area.

The Springbok decision making also baffles at times and it had me tear my hair out when, seven minutes from time, De Klerk opted for a quick tap following a scrum free kick.

The Boks were quickly bundled out and a promising attacking opportunity went begging. In this scenario, calm heads were needed where another scrum would have been the perfect launchpad to mount an attack.

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