Andries Coetzee stars as new-look Boks beat weakened France
Andries Coetzee enjoyed a sensational debut for South Africa as the Springboks claimed a much-needed 37-14 victory over an experimental France side in Pretoria on Saturday.
Following a dreadful 2016 featuring eight Test defeats, a new-look Boks team was able to ease some of the pressure on head coach Allister Coetzee with an ultimately convincing victory at Loftus Versfeld, albeit against a weakened touring side.
France opted not to include any players from Clermont Auvergne or Toulon, who contested last weekend's Top 14 final, for the first Test of three and were left to rue Brice Dulin's sin-binning on the hour mark, which allowed their hosts to surge clear in the final quarter.
Lions full-back Coetzee was among the star performers and had a hand in two of his team's four tries, while fellow debutant Ross Cronje got on the scoresheet himself and Courtnall Skosan - another of the new caps - was illegally impeded in the incident that led to Dulin being yellow carded and the awarding of a penalty try.
Although South Africa dominated possession and territory early on, two Elton Jantjies penalties provided their only initial reward.
It took a powerful break from Coetzee to set up the game's opening try, the 27-year-old regaining his feet after being tackled and offloading to hooker Malcolm Marx, who was left with the simple task of sending Jesse Kriel through to the try line.
France responded before the break through Henry Chavancy, who touched down for his maiden international try after Yoann Huget had kicked on down the right before patting his own kick into the centre's path.
A third Jantjies penalty made it 16-7 at the break, but the visitors were back within two when replacement scrum-half Baptiste Serin dummied over.
Yet it was one-way traffic thereafter as Dulin prevented Skosan from getting on to the end of a kick to the in-goal area and South Africa clinically took advantage of their numerical advantage.
Cronje sprinted over for a debut try after skipper Warren Whiteley had collected a long lineout and passed inside, while another break from the hugely impressive Coetzee enabled Jan Serfontein to add a fourth five-pointer for the Boks.