The powerful French pack on Tuesday produced a dominant display against the Springbok Women in their Women’s Rugby World Cup encounter to hand the hosts a 55-3 victory in Marcoussis.
The breakdowns and lineouts proved to be problematic for South Africa in the first half, which handed France several attacking opportunities, and with their forwards dominating and the team high on confidence they capitalised on their chances.
This combined with a series of errors at crucial times by South Africa in the second half, saw the visitors suffer their second defeat of the tournament.
Such was the dominance of the French pack in the first half they earned four tries, while the backs used their slick passing skills to score a try of their own for a total of five in the first half.
France applied pressure in the opening exchanges, but the Springbok Women countered them well on defence and won turnovers at crucial times. But this was short-lived by the Springbok Women as France took full control of proceedings after the opening 10 minutes.
Their determined efforts on attack paid off in the 12th minute with their giant No8 Safi N’Daye earning a pushover try from a scrum 5m from the tryline to hand them a 5-0 lead.
The French forwards again stamped their authority in the 23rd minute as they used their brute force to produce a strong driving maul, which resulted in a penalty try for the hosts. They supported this with another fine attacking effort by their forwards, which saw them crash over for their third try minutes later.
With their drives functioning well France again opted for a maul after working their way close to South Africa’s tryline and lock Assa Koita crossed the line to inflate their lead to 24-0.
Christelle Leduff scored their fifth try of the half in the 35th minute after getting quick ball and spreading it smartly to breach the defence.
The Bok Women strung together their best run of play for the half in the 38th minute as they built phases and forced their way over the advantage line. This earned them a penalty in the 39th minute which captain and flyhalf Zenay Jordaan slotted over to earn their first points of the match, which left them trailing 31-3 at the break.
The French forwards continued to force their way onto the front foot in the second half as N’Daye again powered her way over the tryline after gaining the ball from a scrum.
The Bok Women continued to find themselves on the back foot as France secured quality ball from a scrum and then spread the ball out wide to take advantage of an overlap for their seventh try and a 41-3 lead.
This was followed by encouraging play by the visitors in the 60th minute as fullback Siviwe Basweni made a break with Jordaan supporting, but a forward pass as the defence worked their way back denied them the chance to score their first try of the match.
They built on this with more promising attacking moments and came within metres of scoring a try, but mistakes and bad decision-making at crucial times again cost them.
With the final whistle nearing the hosts again forced their way into South Africa’s half in the last ten minutes. South Africa, however, managed to win the ball, but a knock-on in their own 22 allowed French centre Elodie Poublan to collect a flick pass and cruise to the tryline to stretch their score to 48-3.
France continued to inflict damage until the final whistle as left wing Camille Grassineau collected the ball from a ruck and sprinted to the open tryline to secure a morale-boosting 55-3 victory.
South Africa 3 (3) –Penalty: Zenay Jordaan.
France 55 (31) – Tries: Safi N’Daye (2), Penalty Try, Assa Koita, Laetitia Salles, Christelle Leduff (2), Elodie Poublan, Camille Grassineau. Conversions: Christelle Leduff (5).