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New Zealand U20 overpowered by France as Tuilagi's son dominates

By Adam Julian
(Source/World Rugby)

In horizontal rain and a swirl of mud, France overpowered New Zealand 35-14 off the back of a double to Posolo Tuilagi, son of former Samoan international Henry, in the top-of-the-table Pool A clash at the World Under 20 championships in South Africa.

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New Zealand has won the tournament half a dozen times since its inception in 2008 but suffered its heaviest defeat in 62 matches against the most recent winners in 2019.

The French pack proved far too strong for a sloppy New Zealand who found some much-needed gallantry in the second half.

France led 21-0 at halftime, their rolling maul assertive, accurate, and effectively creating all three first-half tries. Left-wing Théo Attissogbe scored on the right side after New Zealand was vacuumed into a tight confine leaving an abundance of empty real estate.

Lock Posolo Tuilagi took a less subtle route over the whitewash and halfback Baptiste Jauneau darted over after more constructive forward play.

Jauneau peppered New Zealand with challenging box kicks and was combative with his bustling carries.

Tuilagi is derived from rugby royalty. Posolo is the son of Henry ‘The Butcher’ Tuilagi and the nephew of Freddie, Alesana, Vavae, and England international Manu who is named after an Island.

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Strangely New Zealand dominated the scrum and reduced the frustrated French to 13 in the second half. In the 57th minute, a penalty try opened the Kiwis’ account.

A short while later France, unfamiliar with being bullied, conceded again when openside Peter Lakai barged through two tacklers from close range.

It was a case of too little too late, however. France always looked capable of taking the game to another level. Brent Liufau had the last say.

With 11 tackles, 85m carried and two tries Tuilagi was named man of the match. The loose forward trio of Marko Gazzotti, Oscar Jegou, and Lenni Nouchi were potent.

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For New Zealand tighthead Siale Lauaki was resolute, lock Taylor Cahill spirited, and Lakai battled gamely. Reserve hooker Ray Tuputupu will push hard for a start in New Zealand’s final group match against Japan at 2 am on Wednesday.

France has won their last two matches against New Zealand at this level. In 2018 they won a semi-final 16-7.

France: 35 (Posolo Tuilagi 2, Théo Attissogbe, Baptiste Jauneau, Brent Liufau tries, Hugo Reus 5 con) New Zealand: 14 (Penalty try, Peter Lakai, Taha Kemara con) HT: 21-0

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