Wales U18s failed to make it three wins out of three. Pic: Lennon Greggains.
Wales U18 19, France U18 31
Wales Under 18 saw their dream of a clean-sweep in South Africa turn to dust in a dismal opening that allowed France to build a 21 point lead in 17 minutes in Cape Town.
Having beaten South African Schools and England for the first-time in the annual Under 19 International Series, the game against the French was an opportunity to avenge an earlier defeat this year in Lyon.
Lennon Greggains’ side were always facing an uphill battle after conceding those three early scores, one of which was a 40 metre interception score.
The French went ahead in the third minute when scrum half Mathieu Rodor was given the benefit of the doubt by the TMO after the ball popped out of the grasp of one of his forwards and into his hands to enable him to scamper three metres to the line. His half-back partner Louis Carbonel converted and also improved tries from lock Florent Vanverberghe and wing Matthis Lebel.
The third try came from an interception of a long, midfield pass as Wales attempted to attack from a quick line-out throw on their 10 metre line. They played positive rugby from first to last and were unlucky to get caught out on that occasion.
By half-time they had got on the board thanks to a penalty try following a driving line-out. Cai Evans added the conversion as French lock Thomas Lavault went to the sin-bin. It was 21-7 at the break and Wales were first to score in the second half following some superb footwork and speed from left wing Dewi Cross.
His corner try was converted superbly off the touchline by the accomplished Evans and the fightback was on. But a burst of 10 points in two minutes around the hour mark regained control for the French as replacement centre Lucas Porison sped through to score at the posts and Carbonel converted and then added a penalty.
That took the gap back up to 17 points and, even though Wales had the final say with another excellent try out wide for all-action flanker Dan Davis, it wasn’t enough to give them a chance of making it a clean-sweep.
Wales Under 18: Dylan Moss (Ospreys); Tomi Lewis (Scarlets), Tom Hoppe (Dragons), Scott Lloyd (Scarlets), Dewi Cross (Ospreys); Cai Evans (Ospreys), Harri Morgan (Ospreys); Joshua Reynolds (Dragons), Will Griffiths (Dragons), Ben Warren (Blues), Joe Miles (Blues), Lewis Ellis-Jones (Scarlets), Lennon Greggains (Dragons, Captain), Dan Davis (Scarlets), Taine Basham (Dragons)
Replacements: Morgan Nelson (Gloucester), Jordan Walters (Ospreys), Rhys Davies (Scarlets), Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), Morgan Jones (Scarlets), Ben Fry (Hartpury College), Tom Reffell (Leicester Tigers), Callum Morris (Scarlets), Ben Thomas (Blues), Callum Carson (Ospreys), Joe Roberts (Scarlets), Tom Rogers (Scarlets)
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