France aiming for redemption

2013-11-21 21:30
Philippe Saint-Andre (File)

Paris - France looks to end a miserable year on a high note with a fifth straight home win against the Springboks and build momentum for the Six Nations Championship.

France has won only two matches this year, and finished last in the Six Nations before losing four consecutive matches against New Zealand.

While last weekend's 38-18 win boosted morale, that performance was littered with missed tackles and the French will not get away with that against coach Heyneke Meyer's well-drilled side.

"It would be good for the confidence of the team to finish 2013 well because we're starting 2014 with two home games and England and Italy," France coach Philippe Saint-Andre said.

"It will be a tough arm wrestle and we can't let go.

"Coaching will be important against South Africa and we'll need the 23 players, especially the tight five."

France will need a strong performance to contain a Springboks side which has the size advantage in the pack and is rock-solid in defense, outscoring Wales and Scotland 7-0 in tries in the past two games.

"We know we'll have to be strong defensively and make sure we put them down in the first tackle," Saint-Andre said.

"We know what to expect. We have to be ready tactically and mentally."

South Africa boasts a total of 695 test caps (447 in the backs and 248 in the forwards), with a further 201 on the bench.

Meyer made six changes from the side that thrashed Scotland 28-0, while Saint-Andre made five.

Refreshingly, Saint-Andre has stuck with the same halves pairing for the third straight game — with scrumhalf Morgan Parra alongside the imaginative Remi Tales.

"They are growing in confidence, they're getting to know each other," Saint-Andre said.

"They made real progress against Tonga. We know how important a halfback pairing is in terms of communication."

France defended sloppily at times against an extremely physical Tonga side and Saint-Andre is keen to iron out those mistakes.

"This morning the whole training session was geared toward defense and tackling," he said.

"We know we can't miss 30 tackles like we did against Tonga but our tackling percentage against New Zealand was very high.

"We'll need the same ferocity and intensity to beat the South Africans."

That largely explains why he recalled center Florian Fritz.

"We know how much Florian wants to win the challenges both going forward and in defense," Saint-Andre said.

"Knowing what a battle it will be in midfield against South Africa we chose Florian to play alongside Wesley (Fofana), and we also have Mathieu Bastareaud on the bench."

The other notable change sees Yoann Huget replacing Maxime Medard on the left wing.

For the Springboks, flyhalf Morne Steyn and scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar were rotated back into the side.

Steyn and Pienaar, kept fresh for the six-day turnaround from Murrayfield, replace Pat Lambie and Fourie du Preez.

Up front, Eben Etzebeth comes in for Bakkies Botha at lock, and there's a new front row with Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira replacing Frans Malherbe, Adriaan Strauss and Gurthro Steenkamp.

The Springboks are looking to close a year in which they have won nine of 11 tests with a first win in France since a 52-10 triumph 16 years ago.

"Most of the players have received ample game time and showed they have what it takes to perform at test level," Meyer said.

"Our aim is now to keep on improving against France and hopefully end a very successful season on a high note."

Four years ago, France dominated South Africa in the scrum in a 20-13 win and went on to win the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2010.

They last met at Cape Town in June 2010, with South Africa outscoring France 5-2 in tries and winning 42-17.



15 Brice Dulin, 14 Sofiane Guitoune, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Yannick Forestier.

Substitutes: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Yannick Nyanga, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Mathieu Bastareaud

South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux: 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain) 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Siya Kolisi 22 Jano Vermaak, 23 Patrick Lambie

Read more on:    springboks  |  philippe saint-andre  |  rugby

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