England U20 booked their place in the IRB Junior World Championships Final on Wednesday with a 31-18 win over France in Treviso, Italy.
It was far from plain sailing for the English, who were forced to fight back after trailing 18-13 with less than half-an-hour to play.
In the second semi-final, the Baby Blacks had little trouble in dispatching their rivals from across the Tasman 37-7, notching up their 19th successive win in the championships in the process.
England 31-18 France
New Zealand 37-7 Australia
5th Place semi-finals:
Wales 20-34 Fiji
South Africa 57-15 Ireland
9th Place semi-finals:
Scotland 30-11 Tonga
Argentina 12-8 Italy
England 31 -18 France
George Ford scored 18 points in the match as Rob Hunter's side claimed England's third final berth in four years.
Tries from London Wasps wing Christian Wade, Leicester Tigers fly-half George Ford, Saracens full-back Ben Ransom and Newcastle Falcons number eight and captain Alex Gray helped England to the win in what was a topsy-turvy encounter, played in hot conditions.
England started with real intensity and a strong scrum in the middle of the park was rewarded with a penalty that was kicked into touch by Ford. Northampton Saints hooker Mikey Haywood delivered a good throw from the line-out and the ball was worked back to Farrell who kicked a grubber through for Wade to touch down for his fifth try of the competition.
France's response was immediate, heavy pressure from the restart resulted in USA Perpignan prop Sebastian Taofifenua burrowing over to score, and the successful conversion from Jean Pascal Barraque gave France the lead at 7-5.
Both sides then exchanged penalties, Barraque for France and Ford for England, to make the score 10-8. Ford then missed a three-pointer that would have reclaimed the lead for Head Coach Rob Hunter's men, dragging his kick just wide.
England's second try came just before half time, again, sustained pressure from the English pack resulted in Ford displaying some deft footwork to dodge several French tackles before crashing over to make the score 13-10 at the break.
Sloppy play from England at the start of the second half handed France two early penalties, No. 13 Barraque missed the first but made no mistake with the second to tie the scores up at 13-apiece.
French wing Marvin O'Connor scored his side's second try of the game with 52 minutes on the clock, making some space for himself along the touchline before cutting inside Ransom to touch down. The conversion was missed, giving France a five-point lead at 18-13.
England hit back with their third try just five minutes later. Ransom, who came within meters of scoring in the first half, made no mistake second time around, touching down wide of the posts after some strong phase play from his teammates. Ford's successful conversion gave England back the lead at 20-18.
A Ford penalty after 65 minutes opened England's lead up to five points, but France almost scored their third try ten minutes later in bizarre circumstance. A French line-out was won by England, but another ball appeared on the pitch while England had possession and the line-out was taken again. France won at the second attempt and almost scored in the corner, but the TV Match Official ruled that the ball wasn't touched down.
Ford's radar was again spot on with seven minutes left to play, converting a long range penalty to give England an eight point lead at 26-18. France then went over England's try line, but Irish referee John Lacey pulled it back after spotting a forward pass in the build up.
With the clock past 80, France were throwing everything at England, but a loose pass in their own half was snapped up by captain Gray who ran through unopposed to touch down between the posts and Ford's conversion brought the game to a close.
Tries: Wade, Ford, Ransom, Gray
Cons: Ford 2
Pens: Ford 3
Tries: Taofifenua, O'Connor
Pens: Barraque 2
England: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 Jonathan Joseph, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Christian Wade, 10 George Ford, 9 Chris Cook,8 Alex Gray (C), 7 Matt Everard, 6 Matt Kvesic, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Will Collier, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements:16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Sam Twomey, 19 Sam Jones, 20 Dan Robson, 21 Ryan Mills, 22 Marland Yarde.
France: 15 Jean Marcelin Buttin, 14 Geoffrey Palis, 13 Jean Pascal Barraque, 12 Pierre Bérard, 11 Marvin O'Connor, 10 Jean Marc Doussain (cap), 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Julien Come, 6 Pierre Julien, 5 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 4 William Demotte, 3 Walter Desmaison, 2 Clement Bourgeois, 1 Sebastien Taofifenua.
Replacements: 16 Christophe David, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Mathias Marie, 19 Leonard Vignon, 20 Tom Ecochard, 21 Jules Plisson, 22 Thibaut Visensang.
New Zealand 37 - 7 Australia
New Zealand's bid for a fourth successive IRB Junior World Championship title remains on track after they beat their Trans-Tasman rivals 37-7 victory in the second semi final at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso on Wednesday.
The final score may look convincing after New Zealand scored 37 unanswered points, but the match was a stark contrast to the 2010 final with the Baby Blacks facing an altogether tougher and more competitive prospect to the team they beat 62-17 in Argentina.
But it was another fly-half stealing the show, just as George Ford had done for England in their semi final victory over France, with Gareth Anscombe scoring 22 points in New Zealand's win.
The victory stretched New Zealand's unbeaten run in the tournament to 19 matches and they will now face England on Sunday in a repeat of the 2008 and 2009 finals.
Chris Kuridrani, who only arrived on Sunday as an injury replacement, had given Australia a deserved 7-0 lead after a scoreless opening 10 minutes with David Nucifora's charges frustrating their opponents and starving them of any possession.
However, that only seemed to incense the Baby Blacks and midway through the first half Francis Saili broke through the resolute defence to draw the scores level, before Anscombe took his points tally past the half century mark with two penalties for a 13-7 lead at half time.
Australia flanker Michael Hooper and centre Tom Kingston proved lively throughout the match but couldn't turn the tide in their team's favour.
In the second half, New Zealand captain Luke Whitelock helped extend the defending champions' lead as the number 8 bundled his way through three players before offloading to Charles Piutau.
Having scored braces against Italy and Wales the wing drew level with England's Christian Wade as the tournament's leading try scorer on five, before Anscombe added the extras and a further penalty.
The son of coach Mark Anscombe, the tournament's leading points scorer then converted his own try after intercepting a wayward pass by his opposite number Ben Volavola and racing away to touch down.
Replacement Brad Weber added a fourth New Zealand try - the Baby Blacks 34th of the tournament to take them past their previous record of 33 at each of the previous Junior World Championships with one match - the final - remaining.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Saili, Piutau, Anscombe, Weber
Cons: Anscombe 4
Pens: Anscombe 3
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Francis Saili, 13 Glen Robertson, 12 Lima Sopoaga, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Luke Whitelock(c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Brodie Rettalick, 4 Steven Luatua, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Codie Taylor , 1 Solomona Sakalia.
Replacements:16 Sefo Setefano, 17 Michael Kainga, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Carl Axtens, 20 Brad Weber, 21 Mitchell Scott, 22 Waisake Naholo.
Australia: 15 Simon Morahan, 14 Chris Nasiganiyavi, 13 Tom Kingston, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Kimami Sitauti, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Eddie Bredenhann, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Colby Faingaa (C) , 5 Luke Jones, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Paul
Alo-Emile, 2 Siliva Siliva, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Tim Metcher, 18 Ted Postal, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Rohan Saifoloi, 22 Jacob Woodhouse.