France flyhalf Louis Carbonel kicked five penalties to help his side beat the Junior Springboks 20-7 in the U20 Championship semi-final in Rosario on Monday. DYLAN JACK reports.
France will get the chance to go back-to-back against Australia in the final on Saturday, while South Africa will face hosts Argentina in the third-place playoff earlier in the day.
Where they excelled in their final group game against New Zealand U20s last week, the Junior Springboks struggled badly against France. In truth, they were simply outplayed by a French side that managed the game excellently and were unlucky to only be seven points ahead at half time.
The Junior Springboks simply did not help themselves with some poor tactical play as they struggled to exit their half in the first period and were unimaginative on the attack in the second.
While a try from Fez Mbatha on the stroke of half time got them back into the game and they came out pumped up in the second half, the South Africans lacked the accuracy to turn their own dominance into points.
France dominated much of the first half, opening the scoring through Carbonel’s first couple of penalties before big No 8 Jordan Joseph went over from a driving maul. Carbonel added a further penalty to take his side into a 14-point lead.
The Junior Boks managed to get themselves on to the scoreboard when Mbatha scored from a massive maul, narrowing the deficit to seven points at the break.
The South Africans came out firing in the second half, seeing plenty more of the ball and managing to string a number of phases together in French territory. However, the ultimate difference was that the Junior Boks struggled to turn their momentum into points, knocking the ball on several times under pressure from a well-organised France defence.
Another couple of soft penalties allowed Carbonel to slot the first couple of points of the second half, taking France to a 13-point lead in the final 15 minutes.
While the Junior Boks tried desperately to get themselves back into the match, it was all too late, and a little desperate, as France were able to hold out for the victory.
Junior Springboks – Try: Fez Mbatha. Conversion: Jaden Hendrikse.
France U20 – Try: Jordan Joseph. Penalties: Louis Carbonel (5).
Junior Springboks – 15 Vaughan Isaacs, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Rickus Pretorius, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 James Mollentze, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi , 7 Sibusiso Sangweni, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Elrigh Louw, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Dian Bleuler.
Subs: 16 Dameon Venter, 17 Kudzwai Dube, 18 Keagan Glade, 19 Thabiso Mdletshe, 20 Jaco Labuschagne, 21 Celimpilo Gumede, 22 Mnombo Zwelendaba, 23 Sanele Nohamba, 24 Janko Swanepoel, 25 Emile van Heerden, 26 Caleb Dingaan, 27 David Coetzer, 28 David Kriel.
France U20 – 15 Matthis Lebel, 14 Vincent Pinto, 13 Arthur Vincent (c), 12 Julien Delbouis, 11 Donovan Taofifenua, 10 Louis Carbonel, 9 Leo Coly, 8 Jordan Joseph, 7 Thibault Hamonou, 6 Matthias Victor Haddad, 5 Florent Vanverberghe, 4 Killian Gerachi, 3 Alex Burin, 2 Theo Lachaud, 1 Jean Baptiste Gros.
Subs: 16 Rayne Barka, 17 Eli Eglaine, 18 Girogi Beria, 19 Paul Mallez, 20 Gauthier Maravat, 21 Mathieu Hirigoyen, 22 Loic Hocquet, 23 Quentin Delord, 24 Mathieu Smaili, 25 Sacha Zegueur, 26 Ethan Dumortier, 27 Alexandre de Nardi.
Photo: Juan Gasparini/AFP