Heavyweights through to semi-finals
June 10, 2014
England's Tom Woolstencroft loses possession in the tackle of Argentina's Bautista Ezcurra © Getty Images
England, Ireland and South Africa topped their respective pools to book their places in the semi-finals of the Junior World Championship, where they will be joined by New Zealand who qualified as best runners-up.
Defending champions England were taken to the wire by Argentina in appalling conditions in North Shore City, a last-minute Sam Olver penalty earning them a 17-16 win to send them into the last four with a 100% record. Level 9-9 at the break, George Catchpole's 53rd minute try gave England the lead but a yellow card for Harry Rudkin after he collapsed a scrum boosted Argentina who put England under intense pressure. Just before Rudkin came back on, a quickly taken penalty found its way to Emiliano Boffelli who slid over in the corner and Patricio Fernandez put Argentina two points clear with an excellent touchline conversion. But England's late surge was rewarded with a penalty from close range after Argentina strayed offside and Olver sealed the win.
New Zealand bounced back from their defeat by South Africa to demolish Scotland 54-7 and sneak through to the semi-finals as the best runners-up. The All Blacks needed a bonus point win to progress to the last four and they did not let themselves down, running in eight tries from seven different scorers, with scrum-half Josh Renton the man touching down for a double. Scotland battled bravely and were rewarded with a consolation try from Damien Hoyland late in the second half, but the All Blacks were too strong and will face a re-match against South Africa in the semi-finals.
Ireland will face England in the semi-finals after a bonus-point 38-0 victory over Fiji in Pool B. Ireland's scrum and line-out were completely dominant, earning two penalty tries in the first half after Fiji No.8 Vincent Sosefo was shown a yellow card in the 30th minute. Flanker Ameniasi Natuiyaga and fullback Aseri Robarobalevu also saw yellow in the final stages of the first half as Ireland went into the break 17-0 up. Ireland continued their dominance in the second half with a third penalty try and tries to winger Ciaran Gaffney and Conor McKeon.
Ireland's Cian Kelleher looks for a route through the Fiji defence © Getty Images
South Africa finished top of Pool C with a hard-fought 21-8 win over Samoa who led at half time and were still 8-7 up when Andre Esterhuizen piled over from close range in the 63rd minute.
Wales beat Six Nations champions France 13-3 in Auckland thanks to some inspiring defence. The only try of the game came 13 minutes into the second half when Tom Williams went over after chasing down a deft through kick. The result means that neither team will make it through to the last four from Pool B.
Australia ensured they finished second in Pool A after a convincing 29-3 victory over Italy in Pukekohe. Most of the damage was done in the first half, Australia running in three tries to lead 24-3 at the break.
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