The Junior Wallabies have suffered an agonising loss in the final of the world rugby U-20 championship in Argentina, beaten 24-23 by defending champions France.
Seeking their first title in the 12th edition of the annual tournament, Australia came up just short in a tense decider in Rosario on Sunday morning (AEDT).
Outscored three tries to two, France secured victory through the accurate goalkicking of Toulon five-eighth Louis Carbonel, who finished with 14 points.
Carbonel’s penalty with 15 minutes remaining was the final scoring act and the eighth lead change of the game.
By contrast, Australian halves Will Harrison and Michael McDonald landed three of seven shots between them.
It was a heartbreaking finish for a Junior Wallabies side whose only other final appearance was nine years ago. They had failed to reach the semi-finals since.
Winger Mark Nawaqanitawase handed Australia a dream start when scoring inside 50 seconds after supporting a clean break from Queensland Reds fullback Isaac Lucas.
Hooker Lachlan Lonergan snared his fourth try of the tournament late in the first half but Australia trailed 18-13 at the break after France crossed through front-rowers Theo Lachaud and Alex Burin.
Five-eighth Harrison bagged the lone try of the second half to put his team ahead.
However, Carbonel’s boot twice reclaimed the lead as France became the third team after New Zealand and England to claim back to back titles.
Tries: Lachaud, Burin
Cons: Carbonel 1/2
Pens: Carbonel 4/4
Junior Wallabies 23
Tries: Nawaqanitawase, Lonergan, Wilson
Cons: Harrison 1/3
Pens: Harrison 2/4
More to come.