Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 21 News List

South Africa to fight France for under-21 rugby championship

AFP , CLERMONT-FERRAND, FRANCE

Holders South Africa will tackle hosts France in the final of the rugby under-21 world championships on Sunday.

The Springboks cantered to a 40-23 victory over New Zealand in the semi-finals while France overcame Australia 32-17 to gain revenge for their defeat in last year's semi in Argentina.

France produced a stirring second-half display to overturn a 17-12 half-time deficit to score 20 unanswered points after the break.

Australia took just two minutes to get on the scoreboard through hooker Josh Holmes on the counter-attack. But with flying wingers Florian Benos and Yan Fior doing the damage, and scoring a brace of tries apiece among the hosts' five-try haul, the Australians capitulated.

South Africa also came from behind at the break to dominate in a stunning second period.

The Boks opened up an early 10-0 lead through winger Cedric Mkhize's converted try and a second successful kick from Isma-eel Dollie, but tries from Ryan Wilson and George Pisi helped the All Blacks to a 17-13 lead at half-time.

But second half scores from Keegan Daniel, Wihelm Steenkamp and Pierre Spies wrapped up a convincing victory for the champions.

AFP, PERTH, Australia

A resurgent Australia meets Ireland at Perth's Subiaco Oval tomorrow night determined to maintain the freewheeling style that delivered two big-scoring wins over England.

Under new coach John Connolly, the Wallabies' backline rediscovered running rugby in those two Tests, although five-eighth Steven Larkham does not expect the well-drilled Irish to provide the same possession as an undermanned England side.

In a none-too-subtle dig at former coach Eddie Jones, Larkham said that the Wallabies were reveling in the extra playmaking freedom Connolly has given them, and would continue to mix it up against Ireland.

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