Junior Springboks outwitted by powerful France in World Cup semi-final
Despite a valiant second-half display, the Junior Springboks were knocked out of the World Under-20 Championship on Monday night after going down 20-7 to France.
The French pack laid the foundation for the victory at the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario, Argentina with a powerful performance, especially in the first half.
France will now face Australia in the final on Saturday after the Aussies beat the host nation Argentina 34-13 in the other semi-final on Monday.
The bigger French outfit had the South Africans on the back foot from the start. The Junior Boks just lacked the same physicality and urgency that saw them engulf New Zealand in the quarter-finals.
This time it was France who displayed greater hunger on attack and defence, and flyhalf Louis Carbonel turned that dominance into a 6-0 lead by the ninth minute.
But the South Africans were tackling with great commitment, and did well to keep out the opposition inside their 22.
The wall eventually gave way, though, when imposing No 8 Jordan Joseph forced his way over from a lineout maul to establish an 11-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Carbonel slotted another three-pointer on the half-hour mark, and at 14-0, it was a long way back for the South Africans.
But they seemed to find some rhythm in their way as halftime loomed, and worked themselves into the French half just before the break.
Hooker Fez Mbatha did well from another lineout drive, and scored to bring the Junior Boks back into the game with a 14-7 deficit at halftime.
Chean Roux’s team had a much more assured start to the second half, and they had a chance to narrow the gap to three points when Jaden Hendrikse lined up a penalty.
The scrumhalf missed the mark, and it proved costly later in the half.
Carbonel landed further penalties in the 60th and 70th minutes to stretch the lead to 20-7, and even after he missed another shot at goal, it didn’t affect the final outcome.
The South Africans will now face Argentina in the third-place playoff on Saturday.
South Africa 7 – Try: Fez Mbatha. Conversion: Jaden Hendrikse (1).
France 20 – Try: Jordan Joseph. Penalties: Louis Carbonel (5).
"I'll be honest, it's really not a good feeling!" @JuniorBoks captain Phendulani Buthelezi reflects on a disappointing loss against France in the semi-final at the #WorldRugbyU20s pic.twitter.com/4jyFBv7ZZq— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) June 17, 2019