Cape Town - Despite an enterprising second half fightback, the Junior Springboks have suffered defeat at the World Rugby U20 Championships, going down 46-29 to hosts France in their final pool match.
France led 36-7 at the break after a rampant first half effort.
After the start of the match, the home side were immediately in the ascendency with an early try from Jordan Joseph.
That set the stage for the rest of the first half as the Junior Boks defence was left in tatters with France running in tries through Louis Carbonel, Joseph, Pierre-Louis Barassi and Romain Ntamack.
Ntamack and Carbonel added two conversions each while Carbonel also kicked an early penalty.
The Junior Boks did managed a score just before half-time thanks to hooker Schalk Erasmus.
Lubabalo Dobela added the conversion.
In the second half, South Africa struck first through replacement Tiaan van der Merwe to make the score 36-12 in the 47th minute.
France extended their lead to 43-12 in the 55th minute with an converted try from Jean-Baptiste Gros.
The Junior Boks again cut the deficit thanks to an unconverted try from the in-form Wandisile Simelane as the score read 43-17 in the 64th minute.
In the 66th minute, the hosts lost replacement Maxime Lamonth, sent to the bin for repeated infringements.
South Africa took advantage of the extra man with Alulutho Tshakweni crashing over in the 70th minute for an unconverted try to make the score 43-22.
The Junior Boks had their fifth try in the 74th minute as Sazi Sandi crossed the whitewash and Giovanni Lombard added the extras.
That made the score a more respectable 43-29 with five minutes to play.
A Carbonel penalty was the final score of the match as France ran out deserved 46-29 winners.
Despite the defeat, South Africa will still qualify second in their group and will play England in the semi-finals while France will play New Zealand.
The matches take place on Tuesday, June 12.
They will wonder, however, what could have been had their defence stood up to the French onslaught in the first half.
Tries: Schalk Erasmus, Tiaan vd Merwe, Wandisile Simelane, Alulutho Tshakweni, Sazi Sandi
Conversion: Lubabalo Dobela, Gianni Lombard
Tries: Jordan Joseph (2), Louis Carbonel, Pierre-Louis Barassi, Romain Ntamack, Jean-Baptiste Gros
Conversions: Carbonel (3), Ntamack (2)
Penalty: Carbonel (2)
15 Gianni Lombard (Golden Lions), 14 Tyrone Green (Golden Lions), 13 Manuel Rass (Golden Lions), 12 Lyle Hendricks (Western Province), 11 Wandisile Simelane (Golden Lions), 10 Lubabalo Dobela (Free State), 9 Zak Burger (Sharks), 8 Muller Uys (Western Province) 7 PJ Steenkamp (Golden Lions), 6 Dian Schoonees (Golden Lions), 5 Ruan Vermaak (Golden Lions), 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain, Western Province), 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye (Golden Lions), 2 Schalk Erasmus (Western Province), 1 Nathan McBeth (Golden Lions)
Substitutes: 16 Tiaan van der Merwe (Golden Lions), 17 Alulutho Tshakweni (Eastern Province), 18 Sazi Sandi (Western Province), 19 Ruan Nortje (Blue Bulls), 20 Ben-Jason Dixon (Western Province), 21 Rewan Kruger (Free State), 22 David Coetzer (Western Province), 23 Sihle Njezula (Western Province)