‘Reigning champs oust hosts in all-time World Cup classic as big world rugby myth exposed

Defending champions South Africa edged hosts France 29-28 in a thrilling encounter to reach next weekend’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals.

The Springboks kept their hopes of a record fourth title alive thanks to fly-half Handre Pollard’s second-half points, setting up a last-four meeting with England back in Paris next Saturday.

In-form France were knocked out at the quarter-finals despite leading at the break in a huge disappointment for the expectant home support.

The Springboks will next face England, who earlier narrowly battled past Fiji.

The attacking quality on show in the first half, and the tension of the second half, left many declaring it one of the greatest ever Rugby World Cup matches.

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PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 15: Reda Wardi of France reacts at full-time after their team’s defeat in the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between France and South Africa at Stade de France on October 15, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

New Zealand and Argentina will face off in the other semi-final, meaning three of the four semi-finalists are southern hemisphere teams — despite the recent dominance of European sides in the rugby world rankings.

The elimination of Ireland and France — the world’s No.1 and No.2 sides — so early in the tournament has tipped the World Cup on its head given they were among the top favourites to win.

France captain Antoine Dupont made his return from a cheekbone fracture he suffered last month as the host nation eyed a first semi-final spot since they finished runners-up for a third time in 2011.

French President Emmanuel Macron was present among the 79,500 crowd expecting a match of the highest quality between Fabien Galthie’s France team, third in the world rankings, and Jacques Nienaber’s Boks, in second place.

Eyes were all on the returning Dupont and the 26-year-old was involved as the hosts opened the scoring.

He fed Damian Penaud who found prop Cyril Baille with a deft pass in the corner to send the Parisian crowd into a frenzy.

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 15: Eben Etzebeth of South Africa celebrates victory as he applauds the fans at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between France and South Africa at Stade de France on October 15, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
France’s full-back Thomas Ramos reacts after loosing the France 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match against South Africa at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, on October 15, 2023. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)Source: AFP

Full-back Thomas Ramos made it 7-0 with the conversion and despite France seeming to be in control the Springboks reacted quickly as Kurt Lee-Arendse made the most of a bouncing box kick.

Manie Libbok, inconsistent from the tee so far this World Cup but picked ahead of World Cup-winning fly-half Handre Pollard at fly-half, then brought things level after 10 minutes capping off a thrilling start to the game.

The Boks settled into proceedings after quarter of the match and benefited from another high ball as centre Damian de Allende crashed over a few phases after collecting a Libbok up-and-under.

Libbok missed the extras and Dupont was instrumental again as he set up Peato Mauvaka in the same corner as Baille earlier in the game for the hooker’s third try of the tournament.

Ramos’ difficult conversion was surprisingly charged down by Cheslin Kolbe to make it 12-12 before the Boks took the lead again, which would prove costly in the final result.

Lock Eben Etzebeth hassled Dupont at a ruck before centre Jesse Kriel set up Kolbe with a grubber kick before Libbok slotted the extras with the clinical Springboks leading 19-12.

An outstandingly open first 30 minutes was wrapped up with the sides level at 19-all as Baille claimed his double with the French pack on top at the breakdown but Nienaber’s side efficient with their possession.

South Africa went in at the break down a man with Eben Etzebeth having been shown a yellow card for making head contact with Uini Atonio as he tackled the mammoth prop.

Ramos slotted the resulting penalty to leave France 22-19 up at the interval. After just five minutes of the second half Cobus Reinach and Libbok were replaced by Faf De Klerk and Pollard as the hostile home fans whistled the pair’s entrance to the field.

PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 15: Cheslin Kolbe of South Africa consoles Romain Taofifenua of France at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between France and South Africa at Stade de France on October 15, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Etzebeth was given the same treatment as he returned from the sin bin with an enticing half an hour in store.

France were controlling territory and possession as Ramos extended his advantage as the tournament’s top scorer with a penalty to make it 25-19.

But the momentum swung back South Africa’s way as Etzebeth made up for his earlier misdemeanour by crashing over for a try, Pollard’s conversion putting the Boks back in front at 26-25 going into the final 15 minutes.

Pollard, from his own half, traded a penalty with Ramos in a nerve-racking ending.

France had possession with the clock in the red, but De Klerk came up with a crucial rip of the ball from the grasp of Reda Wardi, Kurt-Lee Arendse bootingthe ball out to end French dreams of a first World Cup triumph.

Source website: www.foxsports.com.au

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