The Oceania Rugby U20 Championship are taking place at Bond University on the Gold Coast May 3-7 and in 2016 featuring a straight shoot-out between Australia and New Zealand.
The teams will use the two-match Championship as the perfect warm-up for their World Rugby Junior Championship campaigns. That tournament takes place from June 7-25 in Manchester, England.
More information: Australia U20 and New Zealand U20. The two-matches will be streamed via www.oceaniarugby.com
Match 1: Australia 10 New Zealand 30
After an error-ridden first half where neither side gained any dominance, New Zealand stepped it up in the second half to run away with a four try victory. Wellington prop Alex Fidow made a big impact from the bench to open up holes in the Australian defence while left wing Mason Emerson crossed for two tries in an electric performance.
In a tight first half, Australia held the edge in the set piece but were constantly forced into errors and turnovers from the fast New Zealand defensive line. The only try of the half came when speedy Hawke’s Bay wing Mason Emerson finished off a sweeping backline movement to score in the corner.
After trailing by as few as three points midway through the second half before a yellow card the two New Zealand tries put the result beyond doubt, Australia U20s coach Adrian Thompson is demanding a much better effort from his side.
Thompson said he made it clear to his players that if they can't improve by Saturday's second match, they will not be on the plane to Manchester when World Championship selection rolls around.
Match highlights from Match 1: Australia v New Zealand U20.
"The execution wasn’t great but we’ve been together for the same amount of time as the Kiwis and they made a lot of mistakes too .At the end of the day they covered theirs up and we didn’t do it well enough," he said.
"They’ve got to come back a lot better than that on Saturday or they’re not going."
Backrower Harley Fox and Mack Mason were two of the Aussie standouts in a gritty performance from the home side, as they battled to stay in touch with their trans-Tasman rivals.
New Zealand inside centre Jordie Barrett, younger brother of All Black Beauden, opened the scoring with a 7th minute penalty but it was New Zealand’s flyhalf Stephen Perofeta who made his influence most felt in the first 40 minutes, setting up winger Mason Emerson for the opening try.
That five-pointer threatened to open the game up for the Kiwis, who put a dangerous kick into space in the 17th minute, before a desperate Mason beat his opponent to the ball t diffuse the threat.
Australian fullback Jack Maddocks showed some pace in the opening minute but it was his kicking that proved to be most influential, though the 19-year-old’s execution was patchy.
It was his deft hands that set up Australia’s first try of the match, with a slick pass to Angus Scott-Young setting off a chain that ended in a Moses Sorovi try.
Stephen Perofeta offloads to support against Austalia U20 at Bond University
A pivotal turnover from backrower Fox and some desperate cover defence from inside centre Jackson-Hope stopped the Kiwis from running away with the match before the break.
Mason slotted a penalty in the 33rd minute to narrow the margin to five points, before Australia was caught in its own five after a knock on from the restart.
The Australian front row pulled its weight in the ensuing scrums, though, winning one against the feed, in an impressive performance from the side’s forwards
Tries to Quinten Strange and Barrett were split by the Sorovi try, keeping the Aussies 10 points adrift with 27 minutes left.
A yellow card to tighthead Tyrel Lomax for a neck roll left Australia to battle one man down in the 62nd minute and New Zealand put pressure on immediately, ultimately adding a penalty to their tally.
A 77th minute try blew the margin out to 20 points and that's where it stayed.
(Tries: Sorovi Cons: Mason Pens: Mason)
New Zealand 30
(Tries: Emerson 2, Strange, Barrett Cons: Barrett Pens: Barrett 2)
Australia U20 Team - Match 1 03/05/16
1. Faalelie SIONE2. Joshua TAYLOR3. Tyrel LOMAX4. Harry HOCKINGS5. Ryan McCAULEY6. Angus SCOTT-YOUNG7. Maclean JONES [C]8. Harley FOX9. Moses SOROVI10. Mack MASON [VC]11. Joey FITTOCK12. Jordan JACKSON-HOPE13. Liam JURD14. Ah-Mu TUIMALEALIIFANO15. Jack MADDOCKS
16. Jordan UELESE, 17. Vunipola FIFITA, 18. Sham VUI, 19. Rob LEOTA, 20. Ikapote TUPAI, 21. Angus FOWLER, 22. Billy GRAY, 23. Sione TUIPOLOTU
NZ U20 Team - Match 1 03/05/16
1. Ayden JOHNSTONE2. Leni APISAI [C]3. Pouri RAKETE-STONES4. Quinten STRANGE5. Sam CAIRD6. Luke JACOBSON7. Mitch JACOBSON8. Marino MIKAELE-TU'U9. Sam NOCK10. Stephen PEROFETA11. Mason EMERSON12. Jordie BARRETT13. Patelesio TOMKINSON14. Jonah LOWE15. Peter UMAGA-JENSEN16. Asafo AUMUA, 17. Shaun STODART, 18. Alex FIDOW,19. Lui LUAMANUA, 20. Dalton PAPALI'I, 21 Ereatara ENARI,22. Orbyn LEGER, 23. Josh McKAY
2016 Oceania Rugby U20 Championship Schedule (Bond University)
Australia v New Zealand, Tuesday 3 May, 6.30 pm AEST
Australia v New Zealand, Saturday 7 May, 4.00 pm AEST
(Thanks to ARU and NZ Rugby for editorial support and photography)