South Africa secured a 3-0 series whitewash of France with a 35-12 victory at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Tries from Jesse Kriel, Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx and Rudy Paige proved too much for France.

If you had asked a Springbok fan what their wishes were ahead of this three-test Castle Lager Incoming Series against France, victory would be very high on the agenda.

And while they were perhaps not as dominant as in the other two tests, the Springboks delivered a resounding 3-0 whitewash in the series with a workmanlike 35-12 victory over the French at a packed Emirates Airline Park on Saturday night.

But test rugby is often a funny game and after the fireworks of the opening two tests, the Springboks buckled down to win an arm-wrestle against a feisty tourists who were intent not only on trying to spoil the Bok attack but also keep the scoreline down.

The Boks were disrupted hours before kickoff when inspirational captain Warren Whiteley was forced to withdraw with a groin injury, which elevated Jaco Kriel into the starting line-up and moved Jean-Luc Du Preez to No 8, with Eben Etzebeth taking over the captaincy.

While Etzebeth led from the front and had a dominant game, the Boks may well have missed an opportunity not to make Siya Kolisi captain for the test, especially after his dominant display in Durban,

The Boks may well have their reason for this, and it’s hard to argue with a 3-0 whitewash but they will also be wary after watching the All Blacks earlier in the day that there are bigger and tougher challenges awaiting them in the Rugby Championshiop.

But in front of a crowd of more than 55 000, the win was still the utmost importance and sometimes it helps a team’s character to grow when things don’t go easy and they still manage to record an impressive victory.

Looking at the scoreline, and considering they didn’t let the French get near to their tryline, the win was once again built on defensive character and a willingness to strike when necessary and should be seen in that light. While it was scrappy and not the fireworks expected for the final test, the Boks still did more than enough to dominate the breakdown and outscored their opposition four tries to none.

And that is perhaps a good thing for this side, as while the basis has been laid for the Rugby Championships and the whitewash seems to have energised the Bok faithful, there will be a lot of work needed before they will feel comfortable to match the All Blacks in a few months’ time.

Without the fluidity of Pretoria and Durban’s second halves, the Boks still did more than enough to win comfortably, and several players enhanced their reputaions once again, with flyhalf Elton Jantjies scoring 15 points with the boot in the game.

There were also good cameos for Pieter-Steph du Toit and Steven Kitshoff from the bench, with Jan Serfontein, both Kriels – Jaco and Jesse - Siya Kolisi and Jean-Luc du Preez all put in hard work throughout the match.

Jantjies opened the scoring with a penalty early on, and the Boks pressure game saw the first try three minutes later as Virimi Vakatawa was caught going backwards in his 22 metre area and debutant Ruan Dreyer ripped the ball from him before sending Jesse Kriel away to score the opening try.

Jantjies’ conversion saw the French surge back into the game with two penalties from flyhalf Jules Plisson to make the scoreline 10-6. Jantjies extended the lead with two more penalties before halftime, while Plisson made it a seven point game on the whistle to send the sides in 16-9.

But the second half saw the Boks gain more ascendancy, as a clever lineout move saw them take the game by the scruff of the neck, and they never looked back.

Using midifielder Jan Serfontein in the lineout, the Boks shifted the drive right with the ball going to Etzebeth, with the lock driving his way over the line to score a well-worked try.

Plisson took the French into double figures just before the hour mark, but the Boks then took control in the last 20 as they dominated and took the scoreline away from the visitors.

With the Boks on attack, Kriel went close, stopped just before the line, but local hero Malcolm Marx picked up and dived over to score.

Six minutes before the end, the Boks sealed the series in style, with a lineout drive releasing Bongi Mbonambi off the back of the maul to take out the first defender, and Rudy Paige darted inside to score the fourth and final try.

The celebration after Paige’s try underlined the fact that while they may not be the finished article yet, this Bok team culture is a healthy thing right now, and with that in play, they can move forward towards bigger and tougher challenges.

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Kriel, Etzebeth, Marx, Paige
Cons: Jantjies 3
Pens: Jantjies 3

For France:
Pens: Plisson 4

South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Lood de Jager, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Nans Ducuing, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Clement Maynadier, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Francois Trinh Duc, 23 Vincent Rattez

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)