A last-gasp try from reserve hooker Bongi Mbonambi has secured a gritty away victory for Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks side.

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The 85th-minute try capped a thrilling comeback where the visitors fought back from a 23-9 deficit in the second half.

It seemed the ball just wasn’t bouncing the way of the South Africans after Cheslin Kolbe had a try denied and Handre Pollard was whistled for forward pass just metres out from his own line, before the match was turned on its head cempletely.

The French held a slim 26-22 lead deep inside the Springbok half with just seconds remaining on the clock, but reserve loose forward Francois Louw was able to get over the ball and secure a penalty – his second in as many minutes – giving South Africa one final chance to go 95 metres and steal a famous win.

Fans gasped as Elton Jantjies missed touch, only for French winger Damian Penaud to carry the ball out. Referee Nigel Owens had to deliberate with his assistants to decide whether time had expired when Penaud carried into touch. South Africa were thrown another lifeline when Owens confirmed the lineout would be the final play.

Still with plenty of work to do and time expired, the Springboks gained another penalty advantage and were able to secure a lineout just five metres from the French try line. With penalty advantage in hand once more, they shifted the ball wide and Aphiwe Dyantyi who crossed for what looked like the winning score. After a second look, the final pass from Willie le Roux was deemed forward and the try was denied.

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When presented with another chance after play was taken back for the penalty, the Springboks made no mistake as Mbonambi charged over from the ensuing lineout drive. With victory assured, Handre Pollard kicked the sideline conversion to give the match its final scoreline of 29-26.

 

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