Cocks crow in Clermont

France won their first U21 World Championship when they beat the Baby Boks 24-13 on Sunday.

The hosts avenged their 14-10 defeat to the South Africans in the pool stages with a clinical performance in front of a 14,000 capacity crowd at the Parc Marcel Michelin in Clermont.

Coming 24 hours after the Tricolores smashed the Springboks at Newlands, flyhalf Lionel Beauxis kicked six penalties and two drop goals to cap off a memorable weekend for French rugby.

Le Bleu dominated the first 25 minutes and deservedly led 12-3. Apart from a break by Keegan Daniels – playing in the unfamilar position of eighth man – that resulted in a penalty goal for Isma-eel Dollie, the Baby Boks struggled to get over the advantage line.

Another penalty from Beauxis extended the French lead and they should have been even further ahead at half-time. The home side had a try disallowed after the referee spotted an accidental obstruction earlier in the movement, and came close to crossing the tryline again just before the break. Still, a fourth penalty gave France a 15-3 advantage.

The Baby Boks made a couple of changes at start of the second half, with Marius Delport shifting to wing in place of Cedric Mkhize and replacement Scott Spedding slotting in at fullback.

It was Spedding who almost gifted France a try when he botched a pick-up inside his 22 and the loose ball was kicked over the Bok line. Fortunately, a South African hand grounded the ball first.

Having survived that scare, the Baby Boks slowly played themselves back into the match. A powerful scrum had the French in trouble, before Dollie kicked his second penalty to reduce the gap to nine points.

Delport then broke down the left-hand touchline and Chiliboy Ralepelle barged it up into the 22, before the Boks were awarded a kickable penalty that they opted to put into touch. However, they lost the line-out and the scoring opportunity went with it.

South Africa should have scored the game’s opening try with 15 minutes to go, when Hilton Lobberts went blind, but Wilhelm Steenkamp couldn’t control the ball with the line inches away.

Beauxis then made the Boks pay with his second drop goal and sixth penalty to put the result beyond doubt.

Pierre Spies scored a consolation try at the death, against the run of play, but it didn’t detract from a comprehensive French victory.

South Africa - Try: Pierre Spies. Conversion: Isma-eel Dollie. Penalty: Dollie.
France - Penalties: Lionel Beauxis (6). Drop goals: Beauxis (2).

By Simon Borchardt

11th/12th place: Italy 12 Georgia 9
9th/10th: Fiji 21 Scotland 19
7th/8th: Argentina 28 Wales 12
5th/6th: England 32 Ireland 8
3rd/4th: New Zealand 39 Australia 36