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France pip Australia in Rosario

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France pip Australia by a whisker to clinch Under-20s double

Australia scored the second fastest try in World Rugby Under-20s Championship history, but it eventually mattered not a whit as France bounced back to become the third side ever to win back-to-back titles at this age-grade tournament. 

Wing Mark Nawaqanitawase’s try after just 49 seconds lit the fuse in a sparkling final that went down to the wire in Rosario, but it wasn’t to be for the pace-setting Australia as they agonisingly lost out by a solitary point on a 24-23 scoreline. 

They were in front on four occasions – 5-0, 13-10, 20-18 and 23-21 – before finally giving way to a French team that determinedly built on their 2018 final win over England in Beziers.  

The Australians outscored the French 3-2 on the try count, but they crucially left 10 points behind them with four misses off the kicking tee. That, in the end, was their downfall. 

After they fell behind on seven minutes when Louis Carbonel converted hooker Theo Lachaud’s try, they struck back to take a 13-10 lead with a 21st minute converted try from hooker Lachlan Lonergan. 

Then, after reaching the interval trailing 18-13 following a French surge capped by Alex Burin’s try, they jumped back in front with back row Harry Wilson’s 47th minute converted try.

The relentless drama soon continued at the Racecourse Stadium. A Carbonel penalty nine minutes later nudged the French back in front, but the Australians weren’t finished yet and they responded in kind as No10 Will Harrison’s 58th-minute penalty had them looking good again at 23-21. 

However, the final’s decisive moment arrived on 65 minutes when Carbonel – who finished with 14 points with five successful kicks from six attempts – was again accurate off the kicking tee to reclaim the one-point advantage that they managed to hold onto as scrum-half Michael McDonald missed a crucial kick for Australia. 

WATCH: Part one of The Academy, the six-part RugbyPass documentary series on how Leicester Tigers develop their young players

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France pip Australia by a whisker to clinch Under-20s double