The visitors outscored their hosts by three tries to two at Paarl Gimnasium, coming out on top in a match where the two packs of forwards set the tone.
While all five tries came from mauls, the South Africans will rue a number of unforced errors when they were in the French red zone in the second half, which could have swung the result in their favour.
In the end, the visitors hung on and probably made better use of their opportunities as they consigned the South Africans to a third straight defeat, albeit all of them with close margins.
The first half was a tightly contested affair as both sides were made to work hard on defence, while the referee’s whistle also had a big say, penalizing indiscretions on either side.
As a result, all four tries scored were from lineout drives, with France crossing first through flanker Lilou Brun Bourdi, before Juan Smal (hooker) scored both the SA U18 ‘A’ team’s tries after periods of sustained pressure.
The French worked their way back upfield afrer Smal’s second try, and were rewarded for their resilience when Baptiste Narmand (hooker) crashed over for their second to see the teams go into the sheds level on points.
The second half delivered more of the same, as well as a number of yellow cards to both sides, but the try scored by French prop Enzo Fernandes from yet another lineout drive, was the difference between the sides in the end.
Kalvin Gourgues (centre) added a penalty goal for the visitors which was cancelled out later by Liam Koen (flyhalf), and the SA U18 ‘A’ team pressed hard at the end, but just failed to find the gap to score another try.
SA Under-18 ‘A’ 15 (12) – Tries: Juan Smal (2). Conversion: Liam Koen. Penalty goal: Koen.
France 20 (12) – Tries: Lilou Brun Bourdi, Baptiste Narmand, Enzo Fernandes. Conversion: Kalvin Gourgues. Penalty goal: Gourgues.