Oceania U20s Teams in top 5 at World Rugby U20s Championships

Oceania Rugby, Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:11AM

New Zealand fall to South Africa in Bronze Match

Reigning Oceania Rugby U20s Champions New Zealand were unable to defend their 2017 World Rugby U20s Championship Title.

A dominant second half from South Africa saw them score 26 unanswered points to claim a second successive bronze medal. 

After trailing 25-14 at half-time, South Africa got a grip of the third-place play-off after the break and New Zealand’s only reply came in the 80th minute of the match. 

Both teams started with purpose and two of the four first-half tries arrived before five minutes had been played by the traditional rivals.

Winger Tyrone Green pounced on a wayward pass and accelerated through the gears to score, before New Zealand instantly replied through scrum-half Jay Renton. Centre Harry Plummer added the conversion and a penalty which put New Zealand 10-7 ahead.  

A charge-down on Rewan Kruger resulted in New Zealand’s second try, scored by Plummer, and shortly after Junior Springboks' coach Chean Roux changed his scrum-half. Roux was also forced to change his fly-half and introduce Lubabalo Dobela due to an injury to David Coetzer.

New Zealand also lost a half-back early in the match as scrum-half Renton was unable to shake off a knock and was replaced by Xavier Roe. 

Plummer’s 49-metre penalty extended New Zealand’s advantage before Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa produced a superb solo-score. The second-row broke effortlessly out of the tackle, fended off South Africa full-back Gianni Lombard and charged under the posts. Once again, Plummer was accurate off the tee and his conversion made it 25-14 after 40 minutes. 

South Africa, well-aware of the need to strike first after the interval, flew out of the blocks and never looked back, finishing a match stronger than they have begun it once again in this tournament.

The hard-carrying of the Junior Springboks’ forwards allowed Wandisile Simelane to release Green out wide and Lombard’s excellent touchline conversion cut New Zealand’s lead to four points.

A deliberate knock-on by Bailyn Sullivan saw him sent to the sin-bin and in his absence South Africa turned up the heat with tries from Ruan Nortje and a length-of-the-field effort finished off by Simelane to ensure that he finished tied as joint top scorer with Italy winger Giovanni D'Onofrio on six. Lombard’s accurate boot handed them a 33-25 advantage. 

The Junior Springboks’ hold on the match tightened as the full-time whistle approached, replacement prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye scoring with six minutes to go and the successful conversion took their tally of unanswered second-half points to 26.

New Zealand winger Caleb Clarke had the final say after using his excellent footwork to profit from his fly-half’s cross-field kick, but it was too little, too late and South Africa came out on top, just as they had done five years ago when the sides met in a third place play-off on French soil.
South Africa coach Chean Roux said: “It was an awesome comeback in the second half, and I am happy for the players because they worked very hard for this, so all credit to them. In saying that, I am still very disappointed that we were not in the final because that was our goal from the outset. It was good, though, to beat New Zealand to finish third.” 

New Zealand captain Tom Christie said: “I’m absolutely gutted with the result. I think that my team played the 80 as we should and gave it a massive effort. South Africa came out physically and really brought the game to us which showed on the scoreboard at the end of the day.” 

NEW ZEALAND 30 (TRIES: Plummer 2, Renton, Rledlinger-Kapa, Clarke; CONS: Plummer 3; PENS: Plummer 4) DEFEATED BY SOUTH AFRICIA 40 (TRIES: Green 2, Sandi, Nortje, Simelane, Ntlabakanye; CONS: Lombard 6)

Australia Finish 5th
Australia led from start to finish against Argentina but it took late tries from Mack Hansen and Isaac Lucas to put a touch of gloss onto the final scoreline. 

The Junior Wallabies put plenty of early pressure on Los Pumitas and on eight minutes their relentless work paid off as second-row Angus Blyth reached over to score after 17 phases.

Australia captain Ryan Lonergan made sure of the extras and despite continuing to dominate the possession they conceded next due to the quick-thinking of Joaquin de la Vega Mendia when Argentina were awarded a penalty.

The fly-half’s pinpoint cross-field kick soared into the hands of Mateo Carreras and the winger stepped his opposite number with ease and raced away to touch down under the posts and give De la Vega Mendia a straightforward kick to tie the scores at 7-7. 

Australia edged ahead once again through hooker Efitusi Maafu’s close-range try and the boot of Lonergan, who added both the conversion and a penalty for a 17-7 lead which they would take into half-time.

De la Vega Mendia and Lonergan exchanged penalties at the start of the second half, either side of Argentina’s Manuel Nogues being sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on. 

With the man-advantage, Australia tightened their hold on the game by adding another penalty and their third try through prop Tom Ross.

Los Pumitas’ Santiago Grondona touched down after a well-worked driving maul with 10 minutes to go to cut the deficit to 27-15 but it was Australia who finished with a flourish to record their best finish since they last finished fifth in 2015.

Replacement back-row Patrick Tafa created the space for winger Hansen to score before Bayley Kuenzle cut Argentina's defensive line in half on the final play with Isaac Lucas the beneficiary of his hard work. 

Argentina captain Joaquin de la Vega said: “We really wanted to win this last game but I think that it was a very good tournament in comparison to last year. We’ve made great progress, we still want to get better results, but I’m very proud of my guys.”

Australia captain Ryan Lonergan said: "We knew that Argentina were going to be a good team, their loss against Italy really wasn’t them, so we knew that it was going to be a tough challenge. They really showed that, the score probably doesn’t reflect how tough the game actually was with a couple of late tries there.”  

AUSTRALIA 41 (TRIES: Hockings, Maafu, Ross, Hansen, Lucas; CONS: Lonergan 2, Harrison 2, Hockings; PENS: Lonergan 2) DEFEATED Argentina 15 (TRIES: Carreras, Grondona; CONS: De La Vega Mendia 2; PENS: De La Vega Mendia)
Last updated: Tuesday June 19, 2018 12:15PM