PARIS (Reuters) - After two narrow defeats, South Africa were able to reverse their fortunes and snatch a last-gasp victory of their own against France in Paris on Saturday, even if coach Rassie Erasmus felt they had not been at their best.
Substitute hooker Bongi Mbonambi rumbled over well after the final hooter to help secure a 29-26 victory that made up for last month’s home loss against New Zealand and last weekend’s controversial one-point defeat to England at Twickenham.
“We learned a few lessons from last week that we were able to apply and we were rewarded for it, even if it is not our best performance,” Erasmus told reporters at the Stade de France.
“It was a stressful match, but the emotion is good tonight. We showed courage.
“Fighting back after being so far behind is often hard, especially when it is raining. The guys handled the key moments well and were better at withstanding the pressure.”
France had led 23-9 early in the second half as South Africa looked lacklustre and showed little enterprise in possession.
But they began the run the ball better thereafter, clawing their way back into the game and eventually securing victory with a dramatic last-minute drive upfield after stripping the French of possession with just one minute left on the clock.
“The most important thing is to put everything into perspective. Ireland are one of the best teams in the world at the moment and in the Six Nations they won here (in Paris) in the last minute,” Erasmus added.
“We beat France 3-0 in our June series of internationals last year but their team is not the same as last year, it is better.”
Captain Siya Kolisi felt a change of attitude in the second half was key to their victory.
“In the first half, the French team dominated us, it was hard. It was not technical mistakes, but it was physical and they were winning the battles. We knew we had to change in the second half and we managed to,” he said.
South Africa next face Scotland and Wales on their four-test end-of-year European tour.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by John O'Brien