Cheikh Tiberghien scored 18 points to steer France to a thrilling 28-21 victory over SA Schools in Durbanville on Tuesday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
In their opening game against Wales, SA Schools scored a last-gasp try to escape with a 43-40 win despite a sloppy performance. The hosts didn’t enjoy as much luck on this occasion, though, as they went down to a well-functioning French outfit.
France came into this contest riding a wave of confidence following their comprehensive 20-point victory over England. The visitors applied great pressure at the breakdown, were threatening in broken-play and boasted a well-organised defensive line in the first half.
By contrast, SA Schools barely had a chance to showcase their strengths because they were starved of possession. On the rare occasion they were in possession and in a favourable position on the field, they looked rushed. Brittle defending also contributed to South Africa’s demise.
There was a change in momentum midway through the second half – as France dropped their guard at the same time South Africa found some rhythm – which led to two tries. But by that stage, the damaged had been done.
In an eventful opening five minutes, Tiberghien missed a regulation penalty kick and had an unsuccessful drop goal attempt. But the French fullback got his kicking radar going as he slotted over two penalties after SA Schools were penalised for side entry.
That lead was extended by three in the 30th minute when South Africa’s blindside flank Sibusiso Sangweni conceded a penalty and a yellow card for lifting a player beyond the horizontal in a tackle.
With SA Schools down to 14 players, France pounced on the stroke of half-time. A well-timed kick into open space was fielded by Juan Mostert. But the flyhalf threw a risky offload into the hands of an opposition player. All it took was a precise offload in the tackle and scrumhalf Kevin Viallard was in for the opening try which gave his team a 14-point lead at the break.
France struck again after the restart when wing Martin Dulon scuttled away for a converted try. Trailing by 21, SA Schools rallied as forwards Evan Roos and Jaques Goosen drove over the line in quick succession.
In a frenetic final 10 minutes, Tiberghien sliced through the SA Schools defence for an excellent try, but the hosts hit back again through Goosen. That set the match on a knife’s edge with about four minutes remaining, but in the end France did enough to hold on for the victory.
SA Schools – Tries: Evan Roos, Jaques Goosen (2). Conversions: Darren Hendricks (3).
France U18 – Tries: Kevin Viallard, Martin Dulon, Cheikh Tiberghien. Conversions: Tiberghien (2). Penalties: Tiberghien (3).
SA Schools – 15 Darren Hendricks, 14 Sibabalwe Xamlashe, 13 Muzi Manyike, 12 Brendan Venter, 11 Wyclef Vlitoor, 10 Juan Mostert, 9 Thomas Bursey, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Sibusiso Sangweni, 6 Tristan Dullisear, 5 Adrian Alberts (c), 4 Lunga Ncube, 3 Hanro Jacobs, 2 Jacques Goosen, 1 Thabiso Mdletshe.
Subs: Jean-Jacques Kotze, Dewald Donald, Herman Agenbag, Celimpilo Gumede, Uzile Tele, Emile van Heerden, Keketso Morabe, Jarrod Taylor, De Wet Marais. (Backs): Jurich Claasens, Mnombo Zwelindaba, Rynhardt Jonker, Lwandile Menze, Stravino Jacobs.
France U18 – 15 Cheikh Saliou Tiberghien, 14 Erwan Dridi, 13 Toa Falatea Moefana, 12 Romaine Fusier, 11 Martin Dulon, 10 Thomas Dolhagaray, 9 Kevin Viallard, 8 Thibaut Hamonou, 7 Mathias Haddad, 6 Yann Person, 5 Adrien Warrion, 4 Gauthier Maravat, 3 Hugo Ndiaye, 2 Pierre Jutge, 1 Eli Eglaine.
Subs: 16 Sacha Lotrian, 17 Mathis Sarragalet, 18 Aselo Ikahehegi, 19 Thomas Ployet, 20 Kevin Noah, 21 Baptiste Jermain, 22 Joris Moura, 23 Tani Vili, 24 Alexis Decaux, 25 Remi Brosset, 26 Hugo Zabalza, 27 Joseph Laget, 28 Weal May.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images