England were beaten 33-25 by hosts France in the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Beziers.
England included two former North Midlands Under-16 players, Ted Hill and James Scott, in their starting XV with two more, Beck Cutting and Will Butler, on the bench.
Steve Bates’ side trailed 14-8 at the break with France scoring a try through Cameron Woki and Louis Carbonel contributing nine points.
A Marcus Smith penalty and Jordan Olowofela’s try took them to within six points at half-time.
And despite a further Smith penalty and Joe Heyes’ try as well as Olowofela’s second, Carbonel kicked four penalties and Adrien Seguret touched down to give France their first ever U20 Championship title.
England were appearing in their sixth-consecutive World Rugby U20 Championship final but after victories in 2013, 2014 and 2016 they were not able to add to that.
They had progressed to the final in Beziers courtesy of three bonus-point victories in their pool, as well as a narrow 32-31 win over South Africa.
At a sold out Stade de la Méditerranée, Carbonel sent over an early penalty and a second midway through the half but Smith had England’s first points moments later.
France then had their first try, Woki showing great agility to squeeze over in the corner.
Smith missed a chance to reduce the deficit as Carbonel stretched France’s lead to 14-3 just before the break but Olowofela went over in the corner for a try in stoppage time.
Three Carbonel penalties, one from halfway, gave France a 23-8 lead inside the hour before Smith kicked a second penalty.
The boot of Carbonel continued to frustrate England with the fly half sending over a seventh penalty and despite Heyes’ powerful try from close range, France replacement Seguret gathered a clever grubber kick to dot down and secure the win.
England would have the final score of the game when Olowofela hit an excellent line to go over, and James Grayson slotted a second conversion, but it would be an eight point defeat for Bates’ side.