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Fourth place for Under-20s in France

Stéphanie Biscaye / World Rugby.

    18 Jun 2018     Stéphanie Biscaye / World Rugby.

Hosts France claimed the World Under-20s title by beating England 33-25 in the final.

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Using their bigger men to effect in the lineout and in mauling play, South Africa wore the New Zealanders down to run in four consecutive tries in the second half to turn around a 14-25 halftime deficit.

New Zealand Under-20s captain Tom Christie said he was gutted with the result but his team had fought all the way.

"It's unfortunate for us but credit to South Africa, they came out physical, they really brought the game to us and that showed on the scoreboard unfortunately," he said.

Coach Craig Philpott said it was disappointing not to get on the podium for third place.

"It was more a case of running out of bodies by the end of it."

The effort of replacement players props Oliver Norris and Suetena Asomua, who both arrived in France only two days ago had been impressive.

"Just the nature of the number of replacements we've had to make probably caught us out towards the end of the game. Full credit to South Africa, they had a fairly limited game plan but they used it really well and put us under pressure with the pick and go," he said.

Ten players in the 28 were eligible for next year's tournament in Argentina and that would be beneficial for New Zealand's hopes, Philpott said.
Attempting to run the ball almost from the start, New Zealand Under-20s wing Caleb Clarke's attempted long pass to centre Billy Proctor flew over Proctor's head to ground and South African wing Tyrone Green got a favourable bounce to run 50m for the opening try, 1m 30s after the start.

South Africa then stole a New Zealand lineout but their downfield kick was taken in midfield by fullback Ngane Punivai and he ran into space on a strong run to link with Proctor who turned back infield to find halfback Jay Renton in support and he scored after 3m 45s.

Second five-eighths Harry Plummer added a penalty goal in the eighth minute to give New Zealand the lead.

South Africa looked to use their big forwards on the break with the ball to make ground but after one ruck halfback Rewan Kruger attempted a kick from the base only to have it charged down by Renton and lock Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa. Renton regathered and broke through the midfield before passing to flanker Devan Flanders whose long pass to Plummer saw him stand up a defender and score wide out.

South Africa replied almost immediately from a lineout maul resulting from a penalty against New Zealand for obstruction. It was prop Sazi Sandi who scored in the subsequent move.

New Zealand lost Renton midway through the first half with Xavier Roe replacing him and straight into the action in the 25th minute when clearing ball to give first five-eighths Kaleb Trask the chance to take the ball to the line. He found Riedlinger-Kapa with a short pass.

The big lock trundled into tackles, wasn't held and then burst into space to beat a defender with a sidestep to score under the posts to give New Zealand a 25-14 lead at halftime.

South Africa scored first in the second half, again the genesis of the play coming from a penalty kick to the corner and a lineout maul. But determined New Zealand defence forced South Africa across the field as they tried to drive ahead. However, the tacklers finally ran out and it was Green who scored in the corner.
New Zealand had their chances to score after opting for penalty kicks to the corner rather than shots for goal but South Africa's defensive lineout ability negated their play and held their line.

After clearing out of their own in-goal area they used penalties to get down the sideline and in the 61st minute another driving maul saw lock Ruan Nortje cross to reclaim the lead for South Africa.

Running the ball from the restart South Africa scored a sensational try to centre Wandisilie Simelane, the tournament's leading try scorer, who made the initial break just out from his own 22m area and then stayed in support to receive an in-pass to run in a fine try.

The coup de grace was delivered after a fine run by flanker Phendulani Buthelezi who allowed South Africa to mass on the line for pick and go attempts before it was prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye who got over the line.

There was a consolation for New Zealand when a crosskick from Trask found wing Caleb Clarke and he finished off beneath the posts.

New Zealand Under-20s: 30 (Jay Renton, Harry Plummer, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Caleb Clarke tries; Plummer 2 con, 2 pen) South Africa Under-20s 40 (Tyrone Green 2, Sazi Sandi, Ruan Nortje, Wandisile Simelane, Asenathi Ntlabakanye tries; Gianni Lombard 5 con). HT: 25-14