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Beetham brace not enough for Wales under-20 to bounce back against France

Pathway | 1st July 2021

Cardiff Rugby's Jacob Beetham crossed for a brace but it wasn't enough for Wales under-20 to over-come France at Cardiff Arms Park on Thursday.

Following last week's defeat to Ireland, Ioan Cunningham's men were desperate to bounce back against Philippe Boher's side, but came unstuck after the French produced a scintillating 20 minute period either side of half time.

Despite a strong final quarter from the men in red, they came away empty handed as focus now turns to England next Wednesday.

Wales' preparations took a turn in the minutes leading up to kick off as prop Garyn Phillips was ruled out at the eleventh hour. He was replaced by Cardiff's own Theo Bevacqua, while France saw a late change of their own, with Theo Ntamack introduced to the back row.

It was Les Bleus who flew out of the starting blocks at the home of Cardiff Rugby, with an early penalty putting them in pole position. While Nolann Le Garrec's attempt was off target, they remained in the driving seat and following four minutes of sustained pressure, Mathias Haddad powered over to get the score-board ticking.

Skipper Alex Mann, looking to swing momentum back in his side's favour, was the first to get the home crowd on the edge of their seats. The Cardiff Blues academy back row broke from a midfield ruck, but was left isolated and eventually turned over in the French half.

The opportunity gave Wales a spark, and they soon found themselves level on the scoreboard. With a scrum on the edge of France's 22, Exeter Chiefs wing Dan John crashed up from first phase, drawing three defenders in the process. Quick hands from outside half Will Reed created space for Eddie James to make the initial bust, and full back Beetham was on his shoulder to provide support and receive the centre's offload.

The academy product had enough pace to round off the covering defender and open the scoring for his side.


However, Boher's side responded immediately and after captain Mann was sent to the sin bin for a cynical foul they took full advantage of the extra man. They opted for the five meter scrum and full back Alexandre Tchaptchet was on-hand to receive Le Garrec's offload to dot down.

Cunningham's men were caught napping as a quickly-taken line-out allowed Enzo Reybier to add a third for France. The bonus point was in the bag before the break as Tchaptchet once again capitalised on his team mate's offload - this time by centre Leo Barre - to cross the whitewash for his second of the afternoon.

In the final play of the half, Wales centre James was penalised for a taking Tchaptchet out in the air, but escaped with a yellow card.

19 points separated the sides at the break and after 10 minutes of second half action the influential scrum half, Le Garrec, added a further three points from the tee.

The result was put beyond doubt as outside half Thibaut Debaes snuck down the blindside before stepping back in field, beating two defenders to complete a fine solo effort.

Wales were playing for pride in the final quarter, looking to gain momentum heading into the clash against England. A fine looped pass from replacement playmaker, Sam Costelow, gave Morgan Richards space to slide over in the corner.

With two minutes remaining on the clock, Beetham charged hard at the line, taking Costelow's flat, drilled pass. After initially losing his grip of the ball, the full back showed good hands to regather possession and touch down for another consolation score.

While France ran away with the 36-19 victory, Wales could be encouraged by their strong performance in the final quarter but will be looking to repeat those performance levels for the full 80 minutes.