Jun 18, 2018
Kpoku excels as England U20s suffer final defeat to France
Joel Kpoku’s England Under-20s suffered a World Rugby U20 Championship final defeat to France in Beziers.
The Saracens youngster was the only member of Steve Bates’ side to start all five matches at the tournament and produced another admirable display as England came up just short against the hosts.
The lock began well with a couple of strong carries early on, but France’s Louis Carbonel sent over two early penalties before Marcus Smith replied with three points of his own.
Les Bleus then had their first try with Cameron Woki showing great agility to squeeze over in the corner despite the best efforts from Kpoku and Gabriel Ibitoye.
French fly-half Carbonel stretched France’s lead to 14-3 just before the break, however England reduced the deficit with a score in stoppage time.
Kpoku’s run and offload gave them the platform to swing the ball wide for Jordan Olowofela to dot down.
The second half saw Carbonel add a further three kicks from the tee inside the hour before Smith’s sent a second over.
The penalty gave England hope and Kpoku’s ferocious work at the breakdown gave them the chance to gain some territory.
His steal went unrewarded as Carbonel’s boot continued to frustrate, kicking his seventh penalty of the contest, and despite Joe Heyes’ powerful try from close range, French replacement Seguret gathered a clever grubber to slide in under the posts and secure victory.
England would have the final score of the game when Olowofela hit an excellent line to go over, however the damage had already been done and France lifted the trophy for the first time.