After a thrilling set of semi-finals, New Zealand will play England in the World Rugby U20 Championships final after the young All Blacks resist the French young guns in Tbilisi.
The Baby Blacks stormed to a 36-0 lead before France responded with twenty-six unanswered points themselves. However, New Zealand held on for a narrow 39-26 victory in the end.
It was a tale of two halves for both sides. New Zealand dominated the first forty before momentum swung to France in the second.
U20 Semifinal – New Zealand v France
Will Jordan opened the scoring, before Tiaan Falcon added a second to take a 15-0 lead after just eleven minutes.
France’s discipline was costly and with Baptistery Presenti in the bin for foul play, New Zealand continued to pile on the pressure. With a man advantage Dalton Papali’i crossed after breaking from a ruck.
Moments later winger Caleb Clarke scored arguably the try of the competition. Outstanding hooker Asafo Aumua made a break down the wing before being tackled just before the line. The ball was spread and a behind-the-back pass from Falcon set up Clarke for a score in the corner.
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France looked down and out and went into the break 29-0 down.
Despite Aumua increasing New Zealand’s lead early in the second half, momentum swung swiftly in France’s favour.
Baptiste Couilloud scored the first, before Presenti got France’s second. The attack begun on the French goal line, breaking up field and Couilloud sent Presenti down the blind side and over the line.
New Zealand failed to stop the persistent French attack, with Beato Mauvaka powering over just minutes later.
But France saved their best try for last. Again on their goal line, the French kicked up field. A further kick to keep the ball in play allowed Lucas Tauzin to pounce over the line. France will have been bitterly disappointed not to have competed for the full eighty minutes.
New Zealand’s Tiaan Falcon had the last say, slotting over a penalty in the final few minutes to take the game well and truly out of France’s reach.
NEW ZEALAND 39 FRANCE 26
New Zealand will meet England in Sunday’s final following France’s bronze medal showdown with South Africa.
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