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Under-20s Six Nations: Final Round wrap

Under-20s Six Nations: Final Round wrap

Under-20s Six Nations: Final Round wrap

Under-20 Six Nations Championship Round 5, Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, Wales 16/3/2018 Wales U20's vs France U20's France U20 celebrate winning the Under-20 Six Nations Championship Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Kevin Barnes

In a pulsating final evening of the Championship, France emerged as the victors with an impressive triumph to dash England’s hopes of defending their title.

In a pulsating final evening of the Championship, France emerged as the victors with an impressive triumph to dash England’s hopes of defending their title.

France secured the Under-20s Six Nations title with a 24-3 win over Wales despite England beating Ireland 48-15, whilst Italy recorded their second win with a 45-31 finish against Scotland.
Click here to see the final standings of the Under-20s Six Nations

Italy Under-20s 45-31 Scotland Under-20s
Stadio Della Vittoria

Looking to make history in Bari with their second win of the Championship, Italy finally hit the heights with a brilliant performance against Scotland.

The Italians had threatened an attacking display on this level throughout the Championship and showed their quality in the previous round with a victory over Wales.

But the Azzurri really shone against the Scots in the first game of the final round, with the hosts running in seven tries to seal a bonus-point victory.

Albert Batista, Matteo Luccardi, Danilo Fischetti, and Alessandro Fusco got on the scoreboard and Alessandro Forcucci also crossed twice as Italy avoided the wooden spoon in style.

Scotland managed a bonus point loss with two tries from Paddy Dewhirst and a score apiece from Logan Trotter and Stafford McDowall, but it wasn’t to be their day and the loss meant Scotland finished bottom.

Head coach Stevie Scott praised Italy’s strengths following the defeat, claiming Scotland didn’t start well enough to win the game.

He said: “We had a big focus this week on starting really well, but we dropped the first kick-off and were under the pump straight away.

“We were playing into a stiff breeze, and after going 15 points behind we managed to scrape it back to 10 points at half-time.

“We did get out-muscled a bit, physicality-wise. We got tested at the breakdown, that’s for sure. There were too many missed tackles that led to easy scores – they didn’t have to work very hard to get points on the board, which is the frustrating thing.

“They’re a good side, and they have improved – they showed that when they beat Wales last week.

“They’re a big physical side and they’ve got some key players – the 10, for example, is a good player – so it was always going to be a difficult challenge.

“Any away game is difficult to win, but our performance wasn’t good enough on the day.”
England Under-20s 48-15 Ireland Under-20s
Ricoh Arena

A late flourish saw England Under-20s run out comfortable winners against Ireland, but it was not enough to wrestle the Championship from France’s grasp.

Ireland opened the scoring through James Hume but Ben Loader eased English nerves with a try from James Grayson’s cross-kick.

Irish skipper Tommy O’Brien restored the visitors’ lead but England hit back and the flood gates opened, with tries from Ben White, Joe Heyes and Gabriel Ibitoye securing the win.

Josh Basham and captain Ben Earl added two more towards the end but the scores were in vain as France’s bonus point win clinched the title.

Head coach Steve Bates was happy with the performance in light of future development but understood they needed more tries overall during the Championship.

He said: “We saw glimpses tonight of what this team is capable of. The first half was a really good half of rugby, it was close, we gave away a bit too much possession and Ireland played in a spirited fashion.

“We probably could have scored a few more tries but overall it was a really pleasing performance and the boys deserved to finish the tournament in that fashion.

“We’ve used a lot of players in the tournament and that’s important for the development of this squad ahead of the World Rugby U20 Championship.

“We’re disappointed not to have retained the title, but we’ve developed as a squad and have seen considerable improvement over the course of the five games and the three coaches Anthony Allen, Richard Blaze and James Ponton have done a fantastic job also.”
Wales Under-20s 3-24 France Under-20s
Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay

In the last match of the Championship, France continued their momentum from the ten-try victory over Italy in Round Four to clinch the title with a bonus-point win against Wales.

The French got off to a dream start when Cai Evans had a kick charged down in the very first minute by hooker Guillaume Marchand, with Romain Ntamack fastest to react by pouncing on his grubber to open the scoring.

Clément Laporte then doubled the visitors’ lead, sniping over from close range, before Cameron Woki rumbled over before half time to give Wales a mountain to climb.

France then found the title-winning try just 15 minutes from time to dash England’s hopes of defending their title, as they produced a breath-taking counter-attack which saw Pierre-Louis Barassi go clear before finding Jules Gimbert inside him for the try.

Bernard Laporte, President of the FFR, was delighted with the title-winning performance and claimed it provided hope for the future of French rugby.

He said: “This victory proves that France is full of young talents, which bodes well for the next U20 World Cup which will take place in Occitania from May 31 to June 17, 2018.

“These young people are the future of French rugby and I think this generation will bring us a lot of emotions in 2023, during the World Cup in France.”

Despite the loss, Wales captain Tommy Reffell was positive and is also looking ahead to the Under-20 World Cup in summer.

He said: “It’s a young side. We’re definitely looking to next year and the World Cup.

“With the number of players we have used in the Six Nations, we can build on that and take into the World Cup.”