Defending champion South Africa knocked France out of its home Rugby World Cup with a performance of sheer resilience to cling on 29-28 in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
France played all the attacking rugby for the first 60 minutes, and had three tries in the first half, including two from prop Cyril Baille, who had France ahead as early as the fourth minute. South Africa also had three tries in the first 40, but all of them came against the run of play.
Thomas Ramos kicked France into a 22-19 lead at halftime with South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth in the sin-bin.
Ramos pushed that advantage to 25-19 in the 54th and France appeared in control with brilliant scrumhalf and captain Antoine Dupont pulling the strings on his return from a broken cheekbone and the home fans baying for a French victory at Stade de France.
But the Springboks kept grinding despite a big territorial disadvantage and Etzebeth’s barging run for a try next to the posts in the 67th minute suddenly swung the game in favour of the reigning champions with Handre Pollard’s conversion.
England 30, Fiji 24
England ended Fiji’s crowd-pleasing run at the Rugby World Cup with a tense 30-24 win to reach the semi-finals for the sixth time on Sunday. In a welcome result for the northern hemisphere after quarter-final losses for Ireland and Wales on Saturday, the English countered a second-half fightback by the Flying Fijians as captain Owen Farrell kicked a drop goal and a penalty in the final eight minutes in Marseille. England will play defending champion South Africa in the semi-finals next weekend. The Pacific Island country couldn’t complete the comeback in its bid to become the first tier two team to get to the semi-finals since the game went professional after the 1995 World Cup.