WALES under-20s head coach Byron Hayward has praised his players and management for their Junior World Championship win over France in Auckland this morning.
The Welsh youngsters beat the French 13-3 to finsh second in Pool B with a chance to finish in fifth place after a 35-21 loss to Ireland made it very difficult for them to progress to the last four despite an opening day 48-19 win over Fiji.
"All credit to every player out there for their performance on the field, and for all the effort the boys and management have put in since the loss to Ireland," said Hayward.
"The players did really well today, it was a great collective effort in difficult conditions. We made less errors than we did both against Ireland and against France in our Six Nations game.
"We put pressure on in the scrum which gained us penalties resulting in good field position and defensively we were outstanding.
"That is down to the players on the field but also the huge amount of work Richard Hodges put in following the disappointment of conceding four tries to Ireland.
"In attack we had one real scoring opportunity and took it well with a planned move. Angus (O'Brien) kept us in a good position too with his kicking, especially a crucial goal kick just before half time to give us a 6-3 lead.”
Wales ended the pool stage ranked sixth while France finished seventh so there will be a re-match between the sides at Pukekohe on Sunday in the 5th place semi-final.
"It is pleasing to beat France who are Grand Slam champions and were unbeaten all season until today. Unfortunately we now have to do it again, but we know we can do it and if we win, there is the carrot of playing for fifth place at Eden Park on finals day, aganist the winner of Australia v Samoa.
"France have an excellent line-out so if we can be more competitive in that area, there is no reason we can't do it again.”
Today's match will be shown in full as live on S4C this evening at 10pm.