Bongi Mbonambi scored a last-gasp try as South Africa completed a stunning second-half fightback to triumph 29-26 against France in Paris.
Having lost 12-11 to England in their European tour opener a week ago, the Springboks looked set to come up short on Sunday in a close encounter when they trailed by four points as the game moved into additional time.
Aphiwe Dyantyi was denied a potentially game-winning try on South Africa’s left flank when the TMO adjudged the final pass to be forward, but a penalty in the build-up offered the visitors another chance.
They duly took it as their forwards put the French pack under immense pressure on the opposite side of the field, eventually allowing substitute Mbonambi to slide over.
The hooker’s dramatic score capped an impressive turnaround by the Springboks, who had trailed 23-9 in the early stages of the second half.
What a comeback!!! Springboks win 29-26 after Bongi Mbonambi scores the winning try with last movement of the match. Well done boys!!#FRAvRSA
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) November 10, 2018
Defeat will sting for Les Bleus, who started brightly and quickly took a 6-0 lead thanks to a pair of Baptiste Serin penalties.
The visitors responded with nine points from the reliable boot of Handre Pollard, but France levelled the game with a Camille Lopez drop goal before seizing control of proceedings with a 12-point burst either side of the interval.
An attacking line-out allowed hooker Guilhem Guirado to break down the blindside to score the game’s opening try in the closing stages of a first half that saw the hosts firmly on top.
Serin added the conversion and was also on target with the extras after Lopez’s clever high kick was fumbled by Sbu Nkosi close to his own line, allowing Mathieu Bastareaud to force his way over from close range.
However, Nkosi quickly made amends for his error by scoring at the other end, touching down on the right-hand side as France were caught short of numbers.
Pollard’s conversion attempt went over via a deflection off a post, though the fly-half needed no assistance with two successful penalty attempts to cut the gap down to a point with an hour gone.
Another successful kick from Serin following a late tackle by Faf de Klerk – who escaped any further punishment – extended France’s advantage, yet they were unable to cling on through to the final whistle.
Both Cheslin Kolbe and Dyantyi were denied tries by video footage – the former losing possession as he looked to ground the ball over the line after a pulsating run – but it proved to be third time lucky for South Africa when Mbonambi touched down, Pollard adding the conversion with the final kick of a pulsating contest in the French capital.
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