The Springboks drowned out the near deafening chant ‘Allez les Bleus’ in the closing minutes to earn just their second win on the road on a chilly evening in Paris on Saturday.
It would have been heart warming, especially the last passage of play, for beleagured coach Allister Coetzee to watch his young charges eke out a close win.
It was one of his objectives to win close games on this tour and last night he got his wish, especiallywith the pong of the Dublin Debacle still in the air.
There was rare respite for him here but he’ll know better than to swing from the chandeliers just yet.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s triumph of fist thumping authority over France in the hosts’ last Test at the Park des Princes.
They won 52-10 then but these are very different times.
If anything this match played itself out along similar lines to the one they played at this sporting cathedral almost to the day in November 2013. The Boks won 19-10 with Heyneke Meyer at the helm then.
It required firm resolve to keep France at arm’s length then and again the Boks with not much going for them by way of form and resultant confidence had to scrap for every morsel.
Their defence stood the challenge here and they will fly to Italy with the slightest spring in their step, although not so for captain Eben Etzebeth.
Etzebeth was withdrawn from the action in the 63rd minute with what looked like a knee injury. It casts doubt over his ability to play next weekend against Italy in Padua.
It was difficult to separate these sides in the build up and so it proved at the final whistle. Had Handre Pollard found the middle of the uprights with greater regularity the Boks would have won by a greater margin.
The French are under the cost and they played with desperaation last night.
It’s been a long time since the French have assemble a team of substance. Just as much as Springbok rugby is hamstrung by defections to this country, the proliferation of foreigners in the Top 14 has diluted the French talent base.
Coach Guy Noves is under pressure with four straight defeats, while some senior players are having harsher light directed at their performances.
The Boks however repelled their advances. Malcolm Marx again delivered a jaw dropping display, while Lood de Jager and Etzebeth were full of second row industry. Francois Venter brought more direction in midfield. His no frills running are at the very least incisive.