Gelant, Cloete inspire SA 'A' to Soweto win

2017-06-24 08:30
Ox Nche (Gallo)

Cape Town - South Africa A overcame having lock Ruan Botha red-carded before half-time to defeat the French Barbarians 48-28 in Soweto Friday and clinch a 2-0 series victory.

Botha was sent off after 39 minutes for shoulder charging an opponent at a ruck when international rugby returned to Orlando Stadium in Soweto for the first time since 2010.

Northern Bulls won a Super Rugby semi-final and final there while their Loftus Versfeld home ground in Pretoria was being renovated for the World Cup football tournament.

A small but vibrant crowd turned up on a cool southern hemisphere winter night to watch a South African A side that included nine black starters.

The line-up showed the progress being made toward rugby becoming a multiracial sport in a country where black players were barred from representing national teams during apartheid.

When South Africa won the Rugby World Cup for the first time in 1995 only one black, winger Chester Williams, was in the team.

Two blacks, wingers JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana, played when the Springboks won the trophy a second time in 2007.

Racial transformation in a nation where 90 percent of the population is black continued slowly until Allister Coetzee last year became the second black coach of the national team.

The government and the national rugby body have agreed that half the 2019 Rugby World Cup side must be black and the Test team that beat France last weekend met that target.

South Africa A led within 65 seconds through a brilliant solo try by full-back Warrick Gelant and were 24-14 ahead by half-time at the home of former African club football champions Orlando Pirates.

Fears that the numerical disadvantage might hamper the hosts in the second half once the tourists were back to 15 man when forward Arnaud Melo returned from the sin-bin proved unfounded.

The South Africans outscored the French tourists by three tries to two with exciting runner Gelant making up for a disallowed try by scoring in the corner to complete the last move of the match.

Gelant (2), flanker Chris Cloete (2), prop Ox Nche and centre Lionel Mapoe scored tries for South Africa A.

Fly-half Fred Zeilinga kicked five conversions and two penalties and scrum-half Jano Vermaak one conversion.

Centre Fabrice Estebanez, winger Lucas Dupont, loose forward Marco Tauleigne and winger Louis Dupichot were the Barbarians' try scorers.

Veteran fly-half Frederic Michalak slotted three conversions and replacement back Anthony Belleau one.

Rugby rivalry between South Africa and France resumes Saturday in Johannesburg with the final Test of a three-match series already won by the Springboks thanks to victories in Pretoria and Durban.


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