Baby Blacks power into the Final
Baby Blacks power into the FinalSHARE
The Baby Blacks were in full control of the match, they dominated the first stanza which saw them take a 29-0 lead at the break. However, in the second half France showed glimpses of that traditional French flair which put pressure on the Baby Black.
The match started off on an intense note. After the Baby Blacks performed the Haka, the French stood firm and refused to move from the halfway mark. However, after the stand-off and under reasonable requuest from the referee Mike Adamson, the sides backed down to get the match underway.
As the French attempted their first lineout drive with their heavier pack, the New Zealanders countered them and won the scrum feed from which the French were penalised for collapsing.
Moving the ball from the resulting lineout, they broke through when the referee didn't call a forward pass from prop Pouri Rakete-Stones to captain and flank Luke Jacobson, who had a fine game leading the side. He raced into space to link with wing Tima Faingaanuku who found fullback Will Jordan in support to score.
Hooker Asafo Aumua made a turnover at the re-start and the ball was kicked downfield and run out by France. New Zealand ran the ball from the lineout and it was first five-eighths Tiaan Falcon who stepped over for the second try.
French ill-discipline and frustration at the New Zealanders being able to upset their third lineout drive saw French flank Baptiste Pesenti-Compagnoni sin-binned for kicking lock Sam Slade in a maul. New Zealand also protested that prop Ezekiel Lindenmuth was head-butted in the same incident. He was forced to leave the field to have the resulting facial cut treated.
Kicking out from the penalty got New Zealand in the position to charge ahead with left wing Caleb Clarke racing in to secure an uncontrolled pass and link with second five-eighths Orbyn Leger. When Leger was tackled, flank Dalton Papali'i arrived to pick up the ball, step into space and stretch his arm out to score in the 23rd minute.
Even when a rare New Zealand midfield mistake was made conceding the ball, the French were unable to use it. They kicked downfield and New Zealand ran it back with hooker Asafo Aumua unleashing a stunning burst of speed down the sideline to outflank all but the last defender. But as the ball was released, a brilliant behind-the-back pass by Falcon found No.8 Marino Mikaele-Tuu and he put Clarke over for the fourth try with ease.
France had their best chance to score in the half right at the end but New Zealand defence held the ball up over the line. Just before the break Lindenmuth completed a strong tackle on the replacement back Theo Millet but then used a swinging arm and was lucky to concede only a penalty.
Aumua opened the scoring five minutes into the second half after the lineout drive had taken play to the French line. Standing off the ruck on the blindside he hit halfback Ereatara Enari's pass at a superb angle to get under the defence to achieve what proved to be a vital try.
The French mounted their response from a lineout on the New Zealand line. Halfback Baptiste Couilloud ran off a fine take by No.8 Alexandre Roumat to score around the end of the lineout.
Then from the re-start, a turnover on the French line by Millet resulted in a breakout which saw Pesenti-Compagnoni finish off the length-of-the-field play with the try.
France brought on their substitutes and used the maul to better effect with replacement hooker Peato Mauvaka crossing for a 63rd minute try.
They were at it again in the 69th minute from a scrum on their own line when Pesenti Campagnoni again drove the ball forward. Then on the blindside, centre Pablo Uberti ran onto a short pass and kicked ahead. The ball was kicked infield by replacement wing Romain Buros and wing Lucas Tauzin picked up the ball and dived over for a remarkable try.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Jordan, Falcon, Papali'i, Clarke, Aumua
Cons: Falcon 4
Pens: Falcon 2
Tries: Couilloud, Pesenti-Compagnoni, Mauvaka ,Tauzin
Cons: Arrate 3
Yellow Card: Baptise Presenti-Compagnoni (France, 22min- Kicking an opponent)
New Zealand: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Tima Fainga'anuku, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Orbyn Leger, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Tiaan Falcon, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Marino Mikaele-Tuu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Luke Jacobson (captain), 5 Sam Slade, 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 3 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Ezekiel Lindenmuth.
Replacements: 16 JP Sauni, 17 Harrison Allan, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Sam Caird, 20 Tom Christie, 21 Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, 22 Tamati Tua, 23 Josh McKay.
France: 15 Geoffrey Cros, 14 Lucas Tauzin, 13 Pablo Uberti, 12 Alex Arrate, 11 Arthur Joel Retiere, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Baptiste Couilloud, 8 Alexandre Roumat, 7 Baptiste Pesenti-Compagnoni, 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Mickaël Capelli, 4 Florian Verhaeghe (captain), 3 Zakaria El Fakir, 2 Florian Dufour, 1 Hassane Kolingar.
Replacements: 16 Ugo Boniface, 17 Peato Mauvaka, 18 Georges-Henri Colombe Reazel, 19 Killian Geraci, 20 Selevasio Tolofua, 21 Arthur Coville, 22 Theo Millet, 23 Romain Buros.
Referee: Mike Adamson (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Charles Samson (South Africa)