New Zealand have blown a 25-14 halftime lead to finish fourth at the U20 Rugby World Championships.
At the half hour mark lock Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa pushed through feeble defence and stepped the fullback to score a shock and staggeringly easy fourth try, at which point the 'Baby Blacks' appeared to be in command.
However South Africa proved far more sturdy in the second-spell and on the back of a superior forward effort and some genuinely enterprising back play powered home to earn a deserved victory.
New Zealand wing Bailyn Sullivan was yellow carded in the 53rd minute for a deliberate knock down. New Zealand resisted South African attack for the best part of nine minutes, but when Ryan Nortje muscled over from a lineout drive the deficit was only four.
From the kickoff, South African centre Wandisile Simelane broke from deep inside his own 22 and after sprinting 50-metres before passing, received the ball back from his support to score an outstanding go-ahead try.
New Zealand lacked discipline and their handling was often poor. Asenathi Ntlabakanye rumbled with six minutes remaining to hammer the nail in the Kiwis coffin.
The game started in high octane fashion with four tries scored in the opening quarter.
South African wing Tyrone Green collected a loose pass and dashed away inside the opening two minutes, but New Zealand quickly regrouped.
Fullback Ngane Punivai has seen limited time at the tournament, but showed his worth when he caught a kick on the full and busted 50-metres. Billy Procter took the next pass before switching to halfback Jay Renton.
Renton was involved in New Zealand's next try, charging down a kick which triggered a movement down the left sideline finished by Harry Plummer.
New Zealand struggled to stop the driving maul in every match and Swazi Sandi profited from that play for South Africa in the 19th minute.
Gianni Lombard kicked five conversions for South African and played with a lot of authority. Plummer collected a personal haul of 15 points for New Zealand.
New Zealand will be disappointed with their final placing. The forwards lacked backbone in the bigger moments, but the likes of Plummer and Sullivan look set for promising futures.
France, who eliminated New Zealand in the semi-final, kicked onto beat England 33-25 in the final. The English making their sixth consecutive appearance in the decider outscored the hosts three tries to two, but were outmuscled by the French pack.
Louis Chabonel punished English I'll-discipline by kicking a record seven penalties as England conceded 16 penalties in total.
France led 14-8 at halftime and never trailed in their historic truimph. No.8 Jordan Joseph, whose only 17 and a huge unit, is worth watching in the future. Jordan Olowofela scored two tries for England. Cameron Woki and Adrien Seguret scored the French tries. The former is a classy flanker who stood out.
Final: France 33 (Cameron Woki, Adrien Seguret tries; Louis Carbonnel con, 7 pen) England 25 (Jordan Olowofela 2, Joe Heyes tries; James Grayson 2 con, Marcus Smith 2 pen). HT: 14-8.
Third place play-off: South Africa 42 (Tyrone Green 2, Sazi Sandi, Ruan Nortje, Wandisile Simelane, Ruan Vermaak tries; Gianni Lombard 5 con) New Zealand 30 (Jay Renton, Harry Plummer, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Caleb Clarke tries; Plummer 2 con, 2 pen). HT: 14-25
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