France will be looking to continue their quest for home World Cup glory when they take on defending champions South Africa at the Stade de France on Sunday evening.
Les Bleus are, so far, enjoying a fantastic tournament that started off with a Pool A victory over New Zealand, while the Springboks’ only defeat in their four group games came against world number one-ranked Ireland.
In front of another partisan home crowd, France may just have the edge over their opponents in Saint-Denis in what promises to be an enthralling affair.
France welcome back captain and scrum-half Antoine Dupont, who underwent surgery on the fractured jaw he suffered against Namibia. He replaces Maxime Lucu in the only change from the starting XV that beat Italy last time out.
South Africa have made 11 changes from the Tonga victory, with one of the biggest calls seeing Cobus Reinach replacing Faf de Klerk at scrum-half.
Manie Libbok also returns at fly-half in place of Handre Pollard, who had been pushing to retain his spot after an assured display against Tonga.
Handicap -4.5 – France @ 11/10
France’s last defeat on home soil came against Scotland back in March 2021 and they have embarked on a fantastic 18-match winning streak since that shock loss.
Les Bleus opened the tournament with a brilliant 27-13 victory over New Zealand and have followed that up with wins against Uruguay, Namibia and Italy. Fabien Galthie’s side have scored 210 points while boasting the best defensive record, conceding a miserly 32.
South Africa will be no pushovers, though, and they triumphed over Scotland, Romania and Tonga to finish second in Pool B behind Ireland, who beat the Springboks 13-8 at the Stade de France.
Jacques Nienaber’s side struggled against the Irish in what was a partisan atmosphere and the noise levels will be cranked up several more notches for this quarter-final contest.
Getting points on the board will be crucial to South Africa’s chances of success, but there are question marks over Manie Libbock’s goal-kicking and he had a bad time with the boot at this stadium in the defeat to Ireland.
France are also boosted by the return of scrum-half Dupont, adding further strength to their starting XV, and the hosts should have enough to cover the -4.5 handicap.
Louis Bielle-Biarrey to score a try any time @ 7/4
France have several attacking options to choose from when it comes to the any time tryscorer market and the nod here goes to Louis Bielle-Biarrey, who starts a Test at the Stade de France for the first time on Sunday.
The 20-year-old has scored four ties from his three World Cup outings and his electric pace and quick feet should see him carve out an opportunity to cross the whitewash.
Host nation France are 4/5 to pick up the win and advance into the semi-finals, with the tie priced at 18/1 and South Africa 10/3 to triumph.
Les Bleus won the last meeting against the Springboks 30-26 and it is 5/1 for Fabien Galthie’s side to win by 1-5 points inclusive, with South Africa available at 11/2 for a victory by that same margin.
Damian Penaud is the leading tryscorer of the tournament with six to his name and he is 11/10 to cross the whitewash anytime, while Cobus Reinach leads South Africa’s charts with four and is 3/1 to add a fifth to his tally.