Fiji, Namibia and Samoa continue to set the pace following day two of the World Rugby U20 2018 Trophy in Bucharest.
In Pool A, Namibia laid down another marker with a 12-try defeat of Hong Kong and put themselves within 80 minutes of the final. Samoa stand in their way and got the victory over Romania they needed to keep pace at the top of the group despite an ill-disciplined performance that earned them two yellows and one red card. The two sides meet on Wednesday afternoon in a winner-takes-all encounter for Pool A spoils.
Fiji are the only remaining unbeaten team in Pool B, but they were made to sweat for victory against Portugal, who led their more illustrious opponents with 23 minutes remaining. Fiji play Canada on Wednesday, who suffered late heartbreak for the second game running as a try in stoppage time gave Uruguay their first win of this year’s tournament.
SAMOA 31-17 ROMANIA
Samoa got off to an inauspicious start against the hosts as lock Stefano Leavasa was sent to the sin-bin within four minutes of kick-off.
Romania put the pressure on from the resulting scrum and when play was switched to the left, their route one approach tied in the Samoan defence and allowed Emanuel Grigore to scamper over.
Samoa scrum-half Pupi Ah See was not going to be outdone by his opposite number, however, and within two minutes he carved open the home defence to level the scores.
Laauli Rudy Leavasa’s side had found their rhythm and wing Jim Tupe scored in the right corner to give them the lead after a quarter-of-an-hour, before fly-half Simon Toleafoa converted his own try five minutes later.
Romania narrowed their deficit before the break as Grigore scored his second try of the match, but as the second half got under way his fellow number nine Ah See took a pass from Toleafoa on the line to complete his own brace and secure his side a try bonus-point.
And when Sione Young Yen dived over in the left corner to give Samoa a 31-10 lead in the 51st minute it looked as though the Pacific Islanders would cruise to another U20 Trophy win.
But the game became increasingly scrappy, and just four minutes after Joe Faleafaga was shown a yellow card, try-scorer Tupe was shown red.
Playing against 13 men for six minutes, Romania began to gain the upper hand and scored their third try with a little over four minutes remaining as Andrei Homiuc injected some pace into their attack and Robert Murariu crashed over. The hosts pushed for the try that would have given them two bonus points in defeat but were kept at bay.
PORTUGAL 22-32 FIJI
Fiji were made to work for their five points against Portugal, needing three tries in the closing 23 minutes to make sure of their second successive World Rugby U20 Trophy victory in Bucharest.
Portugal came into the match on a high following their last-gasp defeat of Canada, and took an early lead on day two as Jeronimo Portela touched down in the right corner. He missed the touchline conversion and Fiji levelled the scores within four minutes as Vilimoni Botitu offloaded to Joseph Mar, who scored in the left corner.
On the quarter-hour, the Pacific Islanders took the lead when Saimoni Uluinakauvadra outstripped the Portuguese defence on the right wing.
Caleb Muntz missed the subsequent conversion, and that allowed Portela two reel Fiji in as he struck two penalties before half-time to give Portugal a slender 11-10 lead at the break.
Further penalties from Portela and Joao Maria Lima stretched Portugal’s lead to a converted try with just over 26 minutes left. And with handling errors hurting their opponents, victory appeared to be on the cards.
However, in the 58th minute, Ilikena Vudogo scored a try out of almost nothing, and although Nabetelevu Turaganivalu missed the conversion Fiji were within two points.
Having edged the door to victory open, Fiji hooker Tevita Ikanivere bulldozed through it to score his side’s fourth try and hand them the lead. It visibly knocked the wind out of Portugal and Waisake Raratuba’s try with around eight minutes remaining made it game, set and match.
Turaganivalu stretched Fiji’s lead to 15 points with a late penalty, but there was still time for Manoa Mocelutu to be sent to the bin as Portugal chased a third try. The European side managed to breach the Fiji line eight minutes into stoppage time as Diogo Cardoso touched down after a series of reset scrums.
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results from the other matches:
Pool B: Uruguay 27 – 23 Canada
Pool A: Namibia 84 – 10 Hong Kong
SOURCE: WORLD RUGBY