Warriors fly-half Fin Smith orchestrated a brilliant second half fightback by England Under-20s which produced a 38-22 victory over France in their Under-20s Six Nations opener at Cardiff Arms Park.
Smith contributed 13 points to England’s win with in an immaculate place-kicking display which capped an impressive debut but it was his composed game management which also helped them overcome a 16 points deficit at half-time.
France appeared the likely winners when their left wing Nelson Epee ran in a hat-trick of tries in the opening 20 minutes to go 19-3 up with an eighth minute penalty from Smith England’s only response.
But England were a transformed team in the second half and they ran in five unanswered tries with Smith converting all of them from an assortment of angles and distances.
Warriors loosehead prop Lewis Holsey also made his Under-20s debut as a starter and helped England start their fightback with a close range try from openside flanker Lucas Brooke (London Irish).
Replacement hooker Sam Riley (Harlequins) was then driven over from a five metre lineout which pulled England to within two points before France landed a penalty to give then a little respite.
But it proved shortlived as full-back Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby) clattered through for England’s third try in 15 minutes before Smith put in left wing Arthur Relton (Exeter Chiefs) for the bonus point try with a lovely floated pass.
Riley went over for his second try eight minutes from time and Smith added the conversion before he was replaced and headed to the stands with a huge smile on his face.