France opened their SA Rugby U18 International Series campaign with a commanding 43-19 win over the SA Schools ‘A’ side at Markotter Sports Fields, Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch on Friday.
The French held a 31-14 lead at the break and although the SA team came back strongly in the second half, two late tries confirmed the dominance the Europeans had in possession and try-scoring opportunities.
They also won the physical battle, leaving the SA side unable to stop the attacking threat from their opponents.
France struck early with some solid attacking drives and flyhalf Leo Barre ran through a hole created by his pack. The conversion was good and France held an early 7-0 lead.
That was extended in the 13th minute when outside centre, Logan Tabet ran through some weak midfield defence to score under the poles. Nolann Le Garrec's second conversion pushed the score out to 14-0.
From the restart the ball was worked wide and winger Jessy Maizier ran all of 50 meters to score in the corner.
The SA Schools A's defence was all over the place and after some delightful interplay, centre Ethan Randale rounded off a well-deserved team try to give France a 24-0 lead.
It took the SA Schools A side all of 18 minutes to get their first points. Following solid possession and some sustained attack, left wing Indiphile Tyeda was worked into space with the softest of passes from prop Rhynardt Rinjsburger to score under the sticks.
The South Africans were finding their feet and some rhythm on attack and the pressure on the French defence became too much. Barre was yellow-carded for slapping the ball down near his line.
The locals used their forwards to commit the French defenders and prop Philip Masango crashed over from close range. Jordan Hendrikse kicked a delightful conversion to cut the lead to 14-24.
The comeback was almost thwarted when Tabet ran a great line to expose the midfield again, but his try did not count as foul play at the preceding ruck was picked up and the try was cancelled out.
The reprieve for the South Africans was short-lived however, as they were again shown up defensively in the wider channels, with winger Eric Boussard beating two players on his way to the try-line.
The second half started much more competitively, with the SA side showing a more grit in defence. They did not stop attacking though and replacement-hooker, Teague Loelly, scored from a driving maul to get the scoreboard going in the second half.
That brought them right back into the game, but another lapse of concentration cost them dearly as first no 8, Killian Tixerot, scored from a simple 8-9 move and then Theo Ntamack-Mayenga dotted down in the corner to seal a very convincing win.
SA Schools A 19 (14), France 43 (31)
France 43 (31) – Tries: Leo Barre, Logan Tabet, Jessy Maizier, Ethan Randale, Eric Boussard, Killian Tixeront, Theo Ntamack-Mayenga. Conversions: Nolann Le Garrec (4). SA Schools A 19 (14) – Tries: Indiphile Tyeda, Philip Masango, Teague Loelly. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (2).