Australia and New Zealand remain unbeaten after two rounds to set up a winner takes all final match in round three.
Round 3 Team Lineups:
Fiji Team versus Samoa TeamAustralia Team versus New Zealand Team
ROUND 2 REVIEW
Despite making 13 changes from the team that beat Fiji 63-3 in the first round the NZ U20s looked just as impressive beating Samoa U20 80-23. Indeed the Craig Philpott-coached side punished any Samoan mistakes and were lethal on the counter attack and put the match result out of doubt by half-time.
Wing Caleb Clarke was a standout playing a major role in a number of tries and he scored one of the 12 tries himself. At half-time New Zealand led 47-6. The second half was much more competitive with Samoa making key changes that produced results. Samoa held onto the ball for far longer periods and forced an error from New Zealand that led to their first try. Outside back Alex Pohia pounced on a loose New Zealand offload and scored in the corner. Fullback Ricky Pauli slotted the conversion from the touchline to go with three earlier penalties to close the gap to 52-16. New Zealand countered quickly through an electric break and try to wing Jona Nareki before Samoa showed they could match the Kiwi’s ball playing skills when captain Losi Filipo scored. Howvever that was the end of the Samoan scoring and New Zeraland crossed for tries to replacements Ezekiel Lindenmuth and Dalton Papalii in the final five minutes to take the score to a convincing 80-23.
New Zealand U20 TeamSamoa U20 Team
SAMOA post-match reaction: Click Here New Zealand 80 (Ryan Coxon, Carlos Price, Caleb Clarke, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Sam Slade, Braydon Ennor 2, Asafo Aumua, Jona Nareki, Luke Jacobsen, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Dalton Papalii tries; Ciarahn Matoe 6 con, Tiann Falcon 4 con) Samoa 23 (Losi Filipo, Alex Pohia tries; Ricki Pauli 3 pen, 2 con).
In the second match Australia defeated Fiji 32-24 but it was a performance that was far from convincing. The young Aussies did score four tries for a bonus point but were pushed all the way by a courageous Fiji who scored three tries of their own. Two of the Aussie tries were scored by hooker Efi Maafu off the back of rolling mauls. One try was a slick loose ball clean up from reserve flyhalf Theo Strang, while captain Reece Hewat scored the other try, burrowing his way over after several pick and drives. However many had expected Australia to dominate the match but they were never able to exert any sort of authority over the Fijians who would have been a hell of a lot closer had they kicked their penalty goals throughout the match. The Fijians actually led 3-0 early and closed things up to 15-10 with about 25 minutes left on the clock but the Aussies were able to tighten the game up and negotiate the final minutes and get the victory. The Aussie lineout was fragile early and they never really got any flow in attack with passes going behind the man constantly and defence not as solid as you would expect at this level. Head coach Simon Cron would not have been happy with the way his team went about their work and much needs to be done before the Aussies take on the impressive New Zealand side on Saturday in the final match of the championship.
Australia U20 TeamFiji U20 Team
FIJI post-match reaction: Click HERE Australia 32 (Efitusi Maafu 2, Reece Hewat, Theodore Strang tries; Harry Nucifora 3 cons, 2 pens) Fiji 24 (Ratu Vere Taukanoa Vugakoto, Apisalome Bogidrau, Salimoni Tukania tries; Viliame Botitu 2 cons, Peceli Lagovo Dulaki Vukatavo 1 con, 1 pen)