Defending champions South Africa eliminated hosts France from the rugby union World Cup on Sunday night following a 29-28 victory at the Stade de France.

Thomas Ramos’s penalty for France eight minutes from time turned the quarter-final into a one-point nerve shredder.

But despite a last push and frantic support from home supporters, France could not breach the South African rearguard nor force it into committing a penalty which could have brought an attempt to kick for the winning points.

French attackers eventually lost the ball and with it the tie.

“I thought the game itself was an amazing game,” said South Africa skipper Siya Kolisi.

“It flowed and it was tough. It was physical. There were a lot of contests in the game.

“We knew it was going to take something special for us to win this game,” Kolisi added.

“We give all credit to the French players and the French people who have made this World Cup so special.”

France powered into the encounter. Cyril Baille opened the scoring in the fifth minute and Ramos converted the try to the delight of the partisans among the 79,500 spectators.

But South Africa replied with tries from Kurt-Lee Arendse and Damian De Allende.

Fly-half Manie Libbok missed the conversion that would have put South Africa 14-7 ahead.

He would soon rue his inaccuracy.

Peato Mauvaka made it 12-12 after 23 minutes. But Ramos fluffed the chance to put his side ahead when Cheslin Kolbe charged down his conversion kick.

A few minutes later Kolbe turned on the afterburners to collect Jesse Kriel’s diagonal kick and race over the line.

But Baille bagged his brace and Ramos atoned for his earlier gaffe to square proceedings at 19-19.

He converted a penalty following Eben Etzebeth’s yellow-card tackle on Uini Antonio to send his side into half-time leading 22-19.

France began the second-half in a similar manner to the way they started the match.

But they failed to exploit their one-man advantage and only scored another penalty after Etzebeth’s return nine minutes into the second-half.

Inevitably, he scored the try which brought South Africa back to within a point of the hosts.

Handré Pollard – on for Libbok – added the conversion and a penalty which took South Africa to 29-25.

In Saturday’s second semi-final, South Africa will play England who beat Fiji 30-24 in Marseille.

On Friday, New Zealand, who beat Ireland, will take on Argentina.

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