Ranking the four remaining teams in the World Rugby U20 Championship

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Four teams remain in the World Rugby U20 Championship after the pool stages were wrapped up last week.

Australia, South Africa and Argentina topped their respective groups, while defending champions France emerged from their pool as best second-placed team.

The biggest surprise, however, was record six-time winners New Zealand failing to qualify for the last four for just the second time in the tournament’s 12-year history.

Here is how we rank the teams ahead of Monday’s semi-finals.

1. AUSTRALIA

Best finish: Runners-up 2010
Player to watch: Will Harrison (Waratahs)

The Wallabies have been in scintillating form during this tournament, topping their pool thanks to victories against Ireland (45-17) and Italy (36-12).

Winners of the Oceania Championships last month, where they overcame a tough New Zealand side in the final, Australia are looking like the team to beat in Argentina, moving the ball at pace while also being disciplined in defence.

Star players are sprinkled all over the field, but in Will Harrison, Harry Wilson and the elusive Isaac Lucas, they boast three players who can often be the tipping point between winning and losing.

2. SOUTH AFRICA
Best finish: Winners 2012
Player to watch: Phendulani Buthelezi (Sharks)

The Baby Boks are the only unbeaten team left in the competition and will take serious confidence after dumping out New Zealand (25-17) last week.

Backed by wins over Scotland (43-19) and Georgia (48-20), Chean Roux will be hoping his destructive pack, led by influential captain Phendulani Buthelezi, can get the upper hand on a dominant French side in the semi-finals on Monday.

The last time the Boks played in the U20 final was 2014 against England, with the Red Rose prevailing by a point (21-20).

Could they rise to the fore five years later in Rosario?

3. FRANCE
Best finish: Winners 2018
Player to watch: Jordan Joseph (Racing 92)

The reigning champions may be lacking the same class as last year’s side, but still have enough quality to advance to a second final in two years.

After clinching wins over Fiji (36-20) and Wales (32-13), France crashed to a 47-26 defeat to Argentina in their final pool game, but claimed the best runner-up spot to keep their title hopes alive.

In Jordan Joseph (18), Les Bleus have one of the most exciting players in the competition.

The Junior Player of the Year is a powerful presence from the base of the scrum and currently leads the scoring charts with four tries in three matches.

4. ARGENTINA
Best finish: Third place 2016
Player to watch: Ignacio Mendy (Jaguares)

The Pumas have captured the imagination of the home crowd with their attractive brand of rugby and strong, attacking game plan.

The home side endured a slow start to their campaign, losing narrowly to Wales (30-25) before seeing off Fiji (41-14) to set up a frenetic final pool match against the defending champions.

Needing to beat France to seal a place in the last four, they roared into life in front of an energetic Rosario crowd to secure a 47-26 victory, thus topping the pool and reaching a third semi-final in 12 appearances.

Next up are the Wallabies.

SEMI-FINAL FIXTURES FOR MONDAY (UAE TIME)

20:00 – Argentina v Australia

22:30 – France v South Africa

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