England U20s into semi-finals
PUBLISHED: 07:52 11 June 2015
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Coopers old boy Perkins shines in defeat
England have qualified for the semi-final of the World Under-20s Championship, despite losing 30-18 to France in their final pool game at the Stadio Luigi Zaffanella, Viadana last night.
And Monday’s last-four tie with South Africa (7.30pm) will be a repeat of last year’s final.
Following a frustrating and physical contest against the French, England had an agonising wait as their fate rested on the results of later games in opposing pools.
But as the highest performing team in runner up position, England join the three pool leaders France, New Zealand and South Africa in the semi-finals.
A try by James Chisholm just before the break and a penalty try midway through the second half kept England in the game against Les Bleus, but the 17-3 deficit conceded in the opening 25 minutes proved costly.
Head coach Jon Callard said: “Credit to France, they fronted up and made inroads into our set-piece which caused us some frustration and we then compounded errors with errors.
“I was proud of how the lads stuck at it in a very physical and dogmatic game, but unfortunately we made mistakes in a way that we haven’t so far this tournament.
“The players were disappointed with their performance, and not to top the pool, but they will learn from this experience and will be stronger for it, both in terms of this competition and their international careers going forward.”
France were the first to put points on the board when full-back Thomas Ramos converted a penalty from the first scrum of the game.
Although England rallied and formed better attacking shape, a disjointed period followed with neither team threatening the try line until Ramos swooped on a stray pass and sprinted downfield.
A try-saving tackle from former Coopers pupil George Perkins spared England and further fine defence was required from Aaron Morris and Jack Walker to keep France at bay.
It was however another loose ball that gifted France with their second score, with centre Damian Penaud going under the posts.
A fine strike from the tee by Rory Jennings kept England in touch, but Penaud was soon in for a second try, picking off an interception and tearing home from 70 metres.
Chisholm, who was relentless in taking the ball into contact and gaining the hard yards, ignited hopes on the stroke of half time, tapping a penalty and charging over the line to make it 17-8 at the break.
England’s momentum was shortlived however as France touched down from a line-out drive to extend their lead to 24-8.
Strong work in the scrum earned England a penalty try which was converted by replacement Lloyd Evans and they finally seemed to have some ascendency, closing the gap to six points when Evans added a further penalyt with 15 minutes left.
Will Homer, on at scrum-half, added energy to England’s attack, but France closed out the game very well and a second Ramos’ penalty and a neat drop goal from Lucas Meret to top the group.