South Africa ‘A’ overcame the French Barbarians 36-28 in an error strewn game played at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Friday.
Tries from Makazole Mapimpi, Skhumbuzo Notshe and two apiece from Harold Vorster and Lwazi Mvovo proved too much for the French Barbarians who scored through Yann Lesgourgues, Frédéric Michalak and an Anthony Belleau brace.
The game was characterised by both teams not being able to protect their ball resulting in a series of turnovers.
This proved costly for both sides as a number of tries came from this turnover ball. It made for entertaining viewing as both sides were more than proficient at counter-attacking.
The French Barbarians had many of their lineouts stolen throughout the game which ultimately cost them the game.
The South African ‘A’ side will be disappointed with their defensive effort and ball retention. Trailing with ten minutes to go, they turned it around largely thanks to their replacements who had a big impact to spare their blushes.
Yann Lesgourgues stunned the home crowd when he got the French Barbarians off to the best possible start, just reward for their early sustained pressure and patient build-up. The try came from a clean break by Jean-Pierre Dubie before the forwards took it up around the fringes with great gusto. Scrum-half Lesgourgues showed good awareness by touching the ball on the post. Frédéric Michalak added the extras.
Soon after, the South African ‘A’ side responded. SA ‘A’ did well to steal the ball from a French lineout before spreading the ball out wide to Mvovo, who fended off a defender before cruising over to dot down. Cronje slotted the conversion to level the scores at 7-7 after 13 minutes.
However, this time it was the visitors who bounced straight back. From the reset kick, the French Barbarians did well to shove SA ‘A’ backwards before hooker Rémi Bonfils effected the turnover. From there it was good interplay and handling as Michalak burst over. He converted his own try to make the score 14-7.
The next try came from a turnover once again. This time it was SA ‘A’ who stole the ball back. The ball went left and Franco Marais ran on to the ball at pace running a superb line and bashing away two defenders before his expertly timed pass found Mapimpi who finished clinically.
Soon after it was SA ‘A’ who took the lead for the first time in the match after superb work from Lionel Cronje. The mercurial fly-half wasn’t held in the tackle, got up, ran fifty metres, dismissively handing-off Arthur Bonneval before his basketball pass found Notshe who dotted down.
Vorster then got his name on the scoresheet after a well-worked lineout move from the SA ‘A’ side. Uzair Cassiem’s timing of the pass was integral to Vorster making the break and sprinting fifty metres before crossing the whitewash.
After a Lwazi Mvovo pass went astray, Michalak showed good game awareness to kick the ball ahead. Belleau collected and raced through showing a good finish despite the close attentions of Mapimpi. Michalak added the extras to bring the deficit back to one as the sides went in to the interval at 22-21.
Michalak then produced a delightful grubber kick which Belleau raced through to collect and dot down grabbing his brace in the 54th minute. Michalak added the extras as the French Barbarians regained their lead at 28-22.
The introduction of the likes of Trevor Nyakane and Ox Nche off the bench certainly bolstered the SA ‘A’ pack with both players making telling carries. However, despite persistent SA ‘A’ pressure, they could not convert this in to tries until the 68th minute.
With the French Barbarians having the put in to the scrum on their five-metre line, the SA ‘A’ shoved them backwards to turn over the ball and Jano Vermaak’s cross-kick bounced in Vorster’s favour who grabbed his brace. Cronjes’ conversion put SA ‘A’ one point in front at 29-28.
Mvovo put the icing on the cake with three minutes to play as he bashed through Michalak’s attempted tackle to grab his second.
For South Africa ‘A’:
Tries: Mvovo 2, Mapimpi, Notshe, Vorster 2
Con: Cronje 2, Zeilinga
For French Barbarians:
Tries: Lesgourgues, Michalak, Belleau 2
Cons: Michalak 4
South Africa ‘A’: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Juan de Jongh vocvovo put , 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Handré Pollard
French Barbarians: 15 Louis Dupichot, 14 Gabriel Lacroix, 13 Jonathan Danty, 12 Jean-Baptiste Dubie, 11 Arthur Bonneval, 10 Frédéric Michalak, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Judicaël Cancoriet, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Arnaud Mela, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Malik Hamadache, 2 Rémi Bonfils, 1 Khatchik Vartanov
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Clément Ric, 18 Tommy Raynaud, 19 Felix Lambey, 20 Romain Sazy, 21 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Clément Poitrenaud
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Vusi Msibi (South Africa), Blake Beattie (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)