France captain Émilien Gailleton said his side could enjoy their holidays after surviving 20 second-half minutes with 13 men in the 44-17 win over Georgia on Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series Finals Day, writes Josh Graham in Treviso.
Les Bleuets recovered from going 10-0 down to lead 17-10 at the break thanks to Gatien Massé’s double and Benjamin Boudou’s score on the stroke of half-time after Sergo Abramishvili was sin-binned.
But it was France whose discipline suffered in the second period as Thomas Moukoro was immediately sent off for a dangerous tackle but Max Auriac’s penalty and Louis Bielle-Biarrey’s converted try kept them on top.
Brent Liufau was shown yellow and Georgia capitalised through Lasha Tsikhistavi but another Auriac penalty and then a crucial interception when camped on their own line meant Robin Bellemand's sin-binning had little effect before Leo Banos’ score sealed matters.
Outside centre Gailleton said: “In the first half we started quite badly. Georgia were really good in the contact, so we didn’t get into the match very quickly.
“But then we came back and in the second half the discipline was quite bad from our side with the cards. The red one was tough and then we went down to 12.
“I have to congratulate the forwards, they did great work, so we managed to stay ahead on the scoreboard.
“It was very tough (down to 13 men) especially in the contact situations but we did the job on that which was really good.
“We had a tough group but we wanted to show up a bit better and at the end we wanted to have a good match to finish and that’s what we’ve done so we can go on holiday happily.”
The game looked to be swinging Georgia’s way when the Junior Lelos were thumping away at the France line, two men to the good and only 13 points down, but Auriac had other ideas when a try looked inevitable, racing under the sticks from deep inside his own 22.
And Gailleton revealed that things could have been very different were it not for the intervention of their full-back.
He said: “If they had scored that try (before intercept) then I think the end of the match would be really tough but then Max scored, so it was fantastic.
“I think we have a really good group. We are big friends, we all fight for the guy next to us and that brings us together.”
Replacement Ethan Randle came on for the the last 20 minutes and was relieved to finish his age-grade career with a bang after a mixed Summer Series saw France beat Ireland before defeats to England and South Africa in Pool A.
The Cheltenham-born centre/winger’s brother is preparing to play sevens for Team England at the Commonwealth Games this month but Randle is committed to France after signing for Stade Francais.
He said: “It’s good to finish on a good note. We really wanted to finish off this 2002 group on a positive.
“It was a tough start - we were highly penalised as well. We had a couple of cards, a red card after half-time. We didn’t make it easy for ourselves but we came out with the win which is the main thing.
“We had to show heaps of character. It was tough and we knew it was going to be tough because they are a physical side.
“But I think we were prepared because we knew what sort of game they were going to play. In the first half we struggled to answer their questions, they were strong up front and we didn’t quite know how to get past them.
“In the second half we managed to put some points on and score some tries. Everyone had to work twice as hard, but we were prepared for it.
“Where we struggled was in the scrum, lineouts and mauls. We knew they were going to be good at their strong points. We answered their questions and came out with the win.”
The Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series takes place from 24 June – 12 July. Fans can watch every match live. For more information visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJHm6BFw-9JRA1CMekNLwMg