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Under-20 Six Nations: England come from behind to beat France and clinch title

Henry Pollock

Under-20 Six Nations

France: (21) 31

Tries: Ferte, Gourgues, Carbonneau, Castro-Ferreira Cons: Reus 4 Pen: Reus

England: (12) 45

Tries: Redshaw, Isaacs 2, Jones, Pollock, Penalty, Halliwell Con: Kerr 3, Makepeace-Cubitt

England came from behind to beat France with a bonus point and clinch the Under-20 Six Nations title despite Ireland's earlier win over Scotland.

England were denied the title by a last-gasp try in their draw with Ireland last time out and found themselves 21-12 down at half-time.

Ireland's victory over Scotland meant England would have to win with the bonus point to lift the trophy in Pau.

England scored 33 second-half points to take their first title since 2021.

It started well for the visitors as Ben Redshaw gathered the loose ball inside his own 22 to run clear and open the scoring but Under-20 world champions France hit back through Mathis Ferte and Kalvin Gourgues before Leo Carbonneau finished one of the tries of the tournament.

Inside his own 22, Hugo Reus kicked wide for Theo Attissogbe to pluck out of the sky and cleverly grubber the ball a few yards beyond his opposite man Redshaw before reclaiming it and feeding a pass inside for Carbonneau to run clear.

England trailed 21-5 when James Isaacs powered over from a rolling maul to reduce the deficit to nine points at the break, before the hooker claimed the first score after the interval from an identical line-out routine.

Mathis Castro-Ferreira crossed for France to stretch their lead once again but Ioan Jones' interception try kickstarted the England fightback, which France had no answer for.

Henry Pollock dived over after a break close to the breakdown as George Makepeace-Cubitt's conversion drew the visitors level. A penalty try handed England the lead before Jimmy Halliwell scored from close range to seal victory.

Speaking to BBC Sport, England head coach Mark Mapletoft said: "That is about as good as it gets. We knew it would be difficult to battle back from 21-5 but they showed their incredible resilience and work-rate.

"Last year we were too easy to score against and this year we wanted to be harder to play against and score against. We had to hang in there and thought we could hurt them around the fringes as the game went on and we finally clicked."

Line-ups

France: Ferte; Attissogbe, Darricarrere, Gourgues, Biasotto; Reus, Carbonneau; Julien, Massa, Affane, Descube, Tuilagi, Castro-Ferreira, Karaba, Gazzotti.

Replacements: Couly, Aouad, Duchene, Huchet, Tolofua, Malaterre, Souverbie, Brau Boirie.

England: Jones; Cousins, Waghorn, Kerr, Redshaw; Makepeace-Cubitt, McParland; Opoku-Fordjour, Isaacs, Sela, Bailey, Kpoku, Carnduff (capt), Pollock, Michelow.

Replacements: Oliver, Kirk, Halliwell, Sodeke, James, Douglas, Bellamy, Spencer.