This years Aon U18 international series got off to a high scoring start on Friday at Boland Landbou School as France’s blistering start put England to the sword in a 41-21 victory for Les Bleus.
England have travelled with a predominantly U17 squad due to club commitments back in the U.K. but under the tutelage of former Northampton Saints and England Saxons Head Coach Jim Mallinder, a better start to the match would have been expected.
France flew out of the gates at full speed and attacked from every turnover or unforced error that the Red Roses gifted them.
After an early penalty from French full-back Cheikh Tiberghien, flanker Yann Peyson dived over as France’s off-loading game punched holes in the English defence. Tiberghien added the extras.
As the French physicality continued to swallow up England’s attack it was releasing a powerful blue tidal wave in broken field.
Tao Falatea-Moefana finished a fantastic length of the field attack before the impressive Tiberghien dived over in the corner and added the extras from the touchline for good measure.
England simply couldn’t handle the pace and the pressure that their opponents were exerting and just before half time, scrum-half Baptiste Germain dived over to make the score 31-0 at the break.
The Red Roses, to their credit, came out in the second-half with a restored vigour and determination.
Their efforts were soon rewarded as second row George Martin burst through to score under the posts. Tom Curtis added the extra two points.
France however had now introduced a wrecking ball of their own in Tani Vili. He held off defenders and broke numerous tackles to dot down just minutes after England finally grabbed a foot hole in the match.
The men in white simply wouldn’t lie down though and for the next twenty minutes they had everything go their way as the French seemed to tire.
The introduction of George Barton at fly-half injected a new pace to their offensive line and Josh Gillespie soon profited by bursting through a gap and showing a clean pair of heels from the half-way line.
Raffi Quirke then sniped around the breakdown to dive under the posts but it was Vili who had the last laugh as he crossed the whitewash for his second try and France’s sixth just before the final whistle.
England: Tries – Martin, Gillespie, Quirke Cons – Curtis 2, Barton Pens
France: Tries – Peysson, Falatea Moefana, Germain, Vili 2 Cons – Tiberghien 4 Pens – Tiberghien
England v Wales – Tuesday 14th August 14:15 (CAT) – Stellenberg High School
France v South Africa Schools – Tuesday 14th August 16:00 (CAT) – Stellenberg High School
France v Wales – Saturday 18th August – 12:15 (CAT) – SACS
England v South Africa Schools – Saturday 18th August – 16:00 (CAT) – SACS