Harold Vorster scored a brace as South Africa A beat the French Barbarians 36-28 on Friday, reports JON CARDINELLI at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The first-ever rugby game at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban didn’t want for action. As many as 10 tries were scored. The SA A side played with plenty of freedom and attacking intent, much to the delight of a small, yet spirited crowd of 9,071.
The hosts took some time to find their rhythm. Flyhalf Lionel Cronjé produced a series of great attacking touches to put his fellow backs into space.
Indeed, the best try scored by the SA A side in the first half was sparked by Cronjé, who fended off a would-be defender and then found Sikumbuzo Notshe with a neat offload. Vorster’s first try – scored from first phase after his team secured a lineout – was a close second.
That said, the SA A team’s defence left a lot to be desired. The hosts scored four tries in the first half alone and went to the break with a 22-21 lead. During the same period, though, they conceded three tries.
Frédéric Michalak, the former France flyhalf who also enjoyed a stint with the Sharks over the road at Kings Park, varied his play to keep the locals guessing. A well-weighted kick by Michalak set up Anthony Belleau for his second try of the evening. Michalak’s successful conversion saw the French Barbarians leading 28-22 after 55 minutes.
The hosts then proceeded to spurn a series of scoring chances through poor handling and option-taking. They also turned down several opportunities to shoot for goal.
Heads began to drop when Lwazi Mvovo knocked the ball on deep in the French Barbarians’ 22. The forwards, however, produced a powerful collective shove at the ensuing scrum to win a tighthead.
After spotting the space behind the defence, Ruan Combrinck chipped for his teammates to chase. The bouncing ball eluded the French, and Vorster claimed his second try of the evening. Cronjé slotted the conversion to steer the hosts into a one-point lead.
Mvovo scored soon after that to complete a brace and put the game beyond the visitors’ reach.
The result sees SA A taking a 1-0 lead in the two-game series. The decider will be staged at Orlando Stadium on 23 June.
South Africa A – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo (2), Makazole Mapimpi, Sikumbuzo Notshe, Harold Vorster (2). Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2), Fred Zeilinga.
French Barbarians – Tries: Yann Lesgourgue, Frédéric Michalak, Anthony Belleau (2). Conversions: Michalak (4).
South Africa A – 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Francois Venter.
French Barbarians – 15 Louis Dupichot, 14 Gabriel Lacroix, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubie,12 Jonathan Danty,11 Arthur Bonneval, 10 Frédéric Michalak (c) 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Judicaël Cancoriet, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Arnaud Mela, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Malik Hamadache, 2 Rémi Bonfils, 1 Khatchik Vartanov.
Subs: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Clément Ric, 18 Tommy Raynaud, 19 Felix Lambey, 20 Romain Sazy, 21 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Clément Poitrenaud.
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images