New Zealand have beaten Australia in the inaugural final of the Oceania Rugby Junior Championship 46-29 at Bond University on the Gold Coast.
Australian Head Coach Adrian Thompson although disappointed with the loss, pointed to Australia’s World Championship preparation.
“It was a tough loss. The good thing is I think we always go into World Cups underprepared and we normally run into one of the games along the way. Now we know what to expect we have some time to fix it.
“This will be the most prepared Australian side by the time we get to the World Championship. We have a few weeks now to get it sorted.
“We’ll sit down tonight and tomorrow and nut out the squad we will take to the World Championship.”
Australia started the match clinically with Andrew Deegan slotting a penalty from in front to give Australia a 3-0 lead.
New Zealand maintained a territorial advantage over the Australian side in the early stages with some solid defence from Cameron Orr and James Tuttle pushing back the Junior All Blacks.
The Australian scrum provided two early penalties for the men in gold allowing Australia to advance out of their own half.
A well placed kick from Australian flyhalf Andrew Deegan allowed Australia to play some attacking Rugby in New Zealand’s end.
The physical encounter saw both sides attempt to overpower each other at the set piece with the Australian forwards holding nothing back against New Zealand.
Ned Hanigan led the Australian forwards with his physicality, dominating with his large frame.
New Zealand’s first try eventually came through number eight Blake Gibson as New Zealand edged ahead 3-5.
As momentum swung towards New Zealand, the men from across the Tasman placed more pressure on Australia with Tinoai TJ Faiane crossing for New Zealand’s second try. The successful conversion from Mitchell Hunt took the score to 12-3.
With Zealand finding space out wide Australia’s defence was tested with a covering tackle from Andrew Kellaway saving a certain try.
It was short lived though with tries to Mitchell Hunt and Captain Anton Lienert-Brown extending New Zealand’s lead to 26-3.
A determined Australia forced their way into New Zealand territory with the Australian forwards rumbling slowly through the Junior All Black defence, creating space for the Australian backs.
A quick pass from Andrew Deegan to winger Joey Fittock allowed the speedy winger to dive over in the corner to score Australia’s first try and leave the score at 8-26 at halftime.
New Zealand started the second half well, off an Australian mistake from the kick off. The pressure created by New Zealand’s fast backs allowed Vincent Tavae-Aso to dive over in the corner for New Zealand’s fifth try of the match.
The Australian U20’s jolted themselves back into action and a try from Duncan Paia’aua with the conversion from Deegan shortened the New Zealanders lead to 15-31.
New Zealand continued to be relentless in their attack and a well-timed straightening run from Blake Gibson earned him his second try of the match and took the score 15-38.
Australia continued to test New Zealand as the Australian forwards fought hard at the set piece. A try to replacement Sam Croke brought the score to 22-41.
The New Zealanders continued their hunt for tries with a rolling maul from New Zealand giving Tau Koloamatangi a try and taking the score to 22-46.
As Head Coach Adrian Thompson used his bench to inject fresh troops into the match, the Australian pace bgean to lift.
Reserve loose forward Jack McCalman made an impact from the bench scoring Australia’s fourth try.
Andrew Deegan continued his excellent kicking form by slotting the conversion which brought the score to 29-46.
A late attacking raid by New Zealand was thwarted for the last time by the Australian defence leaving the score at 46 t0 29.