Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux was bitterly disappointed on Monday as his team went down 20-7 against France in the World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final at the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario, which dashed their hopes of advancing to the final for the first time since 2014.
The Junior Springboks will meet Argentina in the third and fourth place-playoff on Saturday, after Australia defeated the hosts 34-13 in the other semi-final.
The first half proved to be a hard grind as both teams kept things close following heavy rains in Rosario since early in the morning. France took a 14-7 halftime lead thanks to three penalty goals by flyhalf Louis Carbonel and a try, to a converted try by the SAU20’s, with Carbonel adding two more in the second half, which steered the French to a 20-7 victory.
“We were beaten by the better side” said Roux. “I don’t think we pitched up mentally for this game and we made some silly mistakes. You need a little bit of luck as well.
“So there are no excuses, we were simply beaten by the better side today.”
With the bronze playoff left in the competition, Roux said: “We’ve been there in the past, but that is not what we came for.
“We have a couple of injuries, so we will see who is fit to play the next game and we will take it from there.”
France opened up the scoring with two penalty goals compliments of Carbonel in the first seven minutes, and they added the first try of the match shortly before the second quarter as Jordan Joseph touched down from a rolling maul.
Carbonel added his third penalty goal with 10 minutes left in the half to stretch their lead to 14-0.
The Junior Springboks fought back with intent and their patience on attack paid off on the stroke of halftime as hooker Fezokuhle Mbatha forced his way over the tryline from a rolling maul, with Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf) landing the conversion to reduce their deficit to 14-7 going into the break.
The Junior Springboks showed their determination to run hard at France from the outset of the second half, but mistakes at crucial times denied them from adding to their score on a few occasions in the third quarter.
France, in turn, opted their fourth penalty goal in the third quarter and added another several minutes later to extend their lead to 20-7 with minutes to play.
Neither team was able to add to the score despite their committed efforts to breach the defence, which saw France book their place in the final, with the Junior Springboks booking their place in the bronze-playoff.
Junior Springboks 7 (7) – Try: Fezokuhle Mbatha. Conversion: Jaden Hendrikse.
France – 20 (14) – Try: Jordan Joseph. Penalty Goals: Louis Carbonel (5).