The Oceania Rugby U20 Championship ended in dramatic style with Australia levelling the two-Test championship.
The BMW Australia U20s have defeated New Zealand for the first time at U20s level with a 25-24 victory in the second match of the Oceania Rugby U20s Championship at Bond University, Gold Coast on Saturday night. In the thrilling and brutal encounter the young Aussie side shot out to an early 22-3 lead, only for New Zealand to score 21 unanswered points in the second half. A penalty in the last minute of the match allowed flyhalf Mack Mason to steal victory for the Australians, sparking scenes of jubilation on the field.
Despite the victory it was not enough to win the title as New Zealand accumulated bonus points during the two-test Championship that saw them retain the Oceania Rugby Championship title.
BMW Australia Head Coach Adrian Thompson: “I’m proud of the way we came back after Tuesday, we kept a high work load during training and the way we came back in those last few minutes was very pleasing. “I think they showed belief more than anything tonight. I don’t think they believe in their own ability enough. “We have had a tough three years in terms of our Schoolboys losing to the Kiwis, which has hurt our confidence with New Zealand and hopefully this win goes a little way in turning that around.”
Australia started the match in strong form, pouncing on a loose ball from New Zealand and patiently building phases in the New Zealand 22. The Australian backs worked the ball through the hands until Sevens convert, Simon Kennewell scored in the corner. Mack Mason converted from the sideline to give Australia an early 7-0 lead. Australia continued to maintain possession and earned a penalty from 50 metres out, which Mason converted to take the score to 10-0 in favour of the young men in gold.
New Zealand found their form and pounded the Australian line for multiple phases but were unable to cross the try line. Jordie Barrett settled for a penalty kick when the Australians infringed taking the score to 10-3. Australia made a daring run through the New Zealand line thanks to a deft step by fullback Jack Maddocks that put the Australians in New Zealand’s 22.
Australia’s forwards worked hard against the Kiwi defence eventually allowing Izack Rodda to score in the corner. Mack Mason converted the try to take the score to 17-3 where the score remained at halftime.
The first try of the second half went to the Australian side who continued the good form they were playing with in the first half.A line break from Harley Fox supported by Tyrel Lomax broke the New Zealand defence allowing the backs to feed the ball to flier, Joey Fittock who scored in the corner taking Australia’s advantage to 22-3.
New Zealand countered with a try of their own shortly afterwards with Caleb Makene breaking through the Australian line to score. New Zealand continued to chase the game and scored two quick tries, including an intercept to take the lead, 22-24 with 10 minutes left in the match.
With the clock counting down, the Australians desperately fought to get the ball back from New Zealand as the Kiwis held possession. A steal from within in their half allowed Melbourne Rebels centre, Sione Tuipulotu to make a solid break through the line and the Australians patiently built phase after phase on the visitors.
With the final minute of the game upon them, New Zealand infringed at the breakdown and Australian flyhalf Mack Mason was given the responsibility of kicking his side to victory. Mason didn’t flinch and calmly slotted the penalty to seal a remarkable victory.
The two-Test Championship was the perfect warm-up for both sides who will now prepare for the World Rugby U20 Championships in England in June.
Australia 25 (Simon Kennewell, Joey Fittock, Izack Rodda tries; Mack Mason 2 cons; 2 pens) defeated New Zealand 24 (Caleb Makene, Sam Nock, Jonah Lowe tries; Jordie Barrett 3 cons; Jordie Barrett pens)
Australia U20 Team Match 2 [07/05/16]
1. Faalelei SIONE2. Joshua TAYLOR3. Tyrel LOMAX4. Izack RODDA5. Ryan McCAULEY6. Angus SCOTT-YOUNG7. Liam WRIGHT8. Maclean JONES [c]9. Angus FOWLER10. Mack MASON [vc]11. Joey FITTOCK12. Sione TUIPOLOTU13. Liam JURD14. Simon KENNEWELL15. Jack MADDOCKS16. Richie ASIATA, 17. Vunipola FIFITA, 18. Sham VUI,19. Rob LEOTA, 20. Harley FOX, 21. Moses SOROVI,22. Nick JOOSTE, 23. Ah-Mu TUIMALEALIIFANO
New Zealand U20 Team Match 2
1. Shaun STODART2. Leni APISAI [c]3. Alex FIDOW4. Quinten STRANGE5. Sam CAIRD6. Luke JACOBSON7. Dalton PAPALI’I8. Marino MIKAELE TU’U9. Jonathan TAUMATEINE10. Orbyn LEGER11. Jonah LOWE12. Jordie BARRETT13. Patelesio TOMKINSON14. Malo TUITAMA15. Caleb MAKENE16. Asafo AUMUA, 17. Ayden JOHNSTONE, 18. Sean PARANIHI,19. Lui LUAMANU, 20. Caleb APERAHAMA, 21. Sam NOCK,22. Stephen PEROFETA, 23. Mason EMERSON
Photo credit Sportography.
Editorial supplied by Australian Rugby