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Carbonel stars as France Under-20s book spot in World Championship final

Carbonel stars as France Under-20s book spot in World Championship final

Louis Carbonel steered France towards back-to-back World Championship titles, seeing off South Africa 20-7 in the semi-final.

Les Bleuets have finished in the top two in the Under-20s Six Nations in each of the last six years and are now well on the way to consecutive global titles at the tournament, staged in Argentina.

Number eight Jordan Joseph, who starred in France’s tournament victory on home soil last summer, was recalled to face the Baby Boks and scored the vital try to set up a final meeting with Australia.

Fly-half Carbonel, who has amassed 59 points across the 2018 and 2019 Under-20s Six Nations, stroked over two penalties, including a 48-metre monster on seven minutes, to gain early initiative.

Sébastien Piqueronies’ men remained on top and Joseph showed all of his power to crash over for a vital score on 20 minutes, with Carbonel converting from a tough spot wide on the right.

The 18-year-old’s boot remained reliable as he made it 14-0 on the half-hour but the world champions were kept in check as Fez Mbatha sniped home to halve the deficit.

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The French found it tough going after the restart, but exceptional speed off the line and that man Carbonel, who kicked further penalties on 59 and 69 minutes, kept them firmly on top.

France take on Australia, who soundly beat Argentina in their semi-final, in Saturday’s final.

And on a fine day for Six Nations sides, a dogged display earned Wales just their second-ever win over New Zealand at Under-20 level, prevailing 8-7 in a physical encounter.

Wales’ last victory over the Baby Blacks came at the 2012 World Championship, a 9-6 victory in treacherous conditions in South Africa.

And the elements once again conspired against running rugby with Wales under pressure early on, captain Dewi Lake forcing a crucial penalty at the breakdown to ease early worries.

The crucial try came on 18 minutes as Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler took advantage of a fumble, punted forward and flopped onto the ball to draw first blood, Cai Evans missing the conversion.

A ten-minute thunderstorm took the teams off the field for around an hour and on the resumption handling errors held sway.

The Baby Blacks bit back as Tupou Vaa’i muscled over from close range but a clutch penalty kick from Evans, his first successful effort from the tee, earned a historic victory.

Elsewhere, England sealed 30-23 victory over Ireland on the final play as the all-Under 20s Six Nations semi-final tie produced a stone-cold thriller.

Ireland prevailed 35-27 in a similarly entertaining clash in the Six Nations earlier this year and the two teams didn’t disappoint in South America.

Despite picking up two yellow cards in the opening 30 minutes, England held firm and Josh Hodge’s fleet-footed effort out wide saw them into an unlikely 13-6 interval lead.

Exeter’s Sam Maunder picked up from the back of a scrum and dived over to open up a 14-point lead but Ireland came hurtling back, tries from Brian Deeny and Jonathan Wren bringing them back on terms.

It looked destined for extra-time with the scores locked on 23-23 but replacement Tom Willis was shoved over in the dying moments to earn victory.

England now face Wales in what’s set to be a thrilling contest to decide fifth place on Saturday.

Italy claimed their first victory of the World Championship, holding off spirited Scotland 26-19 in an arm-wrestle also disrupted by thunderstorms.

Ewan Ashman barrelled over for his third try of the tournament to hand the Scots an early lead but Jacopo Trulla, three times a try scorer in the 2018 Six Nations, levelled with a solo score.

The Italians went winless through the group stages but adapter quicker to deteriorating conditions, striking through Edoardo Mastandrea and Damiano Mazza to lead 19-7 at half-time.

Scotland’s Robbie McCallum crossed the whitewash twice in the 2018 Championship but was held up on the line early in the second half as his side turned the screw.

Fly-half Paulo Garbisi’s sparkling score from 40 metres widened the gap to 26-7 and it proved decisive, despite Ashman and Jack Blain dotting down for Carl Hogg’s side in the dying moments.

The Italians, coached by Azzuri centurion Alessandro Troncon, contest ninth place with Georgia on Saturday while Scotland close out their campaign against Fiji on the same day.