France booked their place in the U20 World Championship semi-finals after beating England 30-18 at Stadio Luigi Zaffanella in Viadana on Wednesday.
The result means tournament holders England face a nervous wait to see how other results play out in Italy as they hope to make the last four next week.
France, who were a point behind England going into the final-round game, went 3-0 ahead on five minutes when full-back Thomas Ramos struck a penalty.
Their lead would grow to ten points with a quarter played when a testing high kick was not fielded by England full-back Aaron Morris, France flank Lucas Bachelier pounced before setting up outside centre Damien Penaud for the first try. Ramos knocked over the simple extras from in front.
England needed points on the board and three came via a scrum penalty, with Rory Jennings on target with a kick that crept just inside the post.
Their reprieve was short-lived though as from a poor Jennings pass, centre Penaud intercepted before racing 75 metres to make it 17-3 to France.
Fortunately for England they would reduce the margin to nine points going into the break when number eight James Chisholm crashed over from five metres out. Due to Jennings missing the resulting conversion, France would, however, still go into the dressing rooms with a two-score advantage.
Two would become three soon after the interval as from a line-out drive five metres out, the French would crash over the line via loosehead prop Thibault Estorge on 44 minutes. With Ramos' conversion wide on the right, les Bleuets were now 24-8 in front with England looking unlikely to top the pool.
The English would not give up though and their scrum dominance bore fruit on the hour mark as a penalty try was awarded, which meant the deficit was once again cut to nine points thanks to replacement Lloyd Evans' simple two points. Suddenly les Bleuets weren't in such a commanding position.
Evans further reduced the arrears off the tee on 67 minutes to put England within touching distance at 24-18 but a Ramos penalty and Lucas Méret's drop-goal soon followed to seal the win.
Tries: Chisholm, Penalty
Pen: Jennings, Evans
Tries: Penaud 2, Estorge
Con: Ramos 3
England: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 George Perkins, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Max Clark, 11 Howard Packman, 10 Rory Jennings, 9 James Mitchell, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Will Owen, 6 Charlie Beckett, 5 Charlie Ewels (c), 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Owen Hills, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Josh Bainbridge, 21 Will Homer, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Piers O’Conor.
France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Damien Penaud, 12 Elliott Roudil, 11 Lucas Blanc, 10 Lucas Méret, 9 Anthony Méric, 8 Fabien Sanconnie, 7 Lucas Bachelier (c), 6 Sékou Macalou, 5 Mathieu Tanguy, 4 Tristan Labouteley, 3 Clément Castets, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Thibault Estorge.
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Thierry Pavia, 18 Quentin Bethune, 19 Julien Delannoy, 20 Mathieu Ugéna, 21 Gauthier Doubrère, 22 Pierre Fouyssac, 23 Alexandre Pilati.