New Zealand power past Ireland to finish third
June 20, 2014
New Zealand's double try-scorer Tevita Li powers forward against Ireland © Getty Images
New Zealand achieved some form of consolation with 45-23 victory over a determined Ireland at Eden Park. The junior All Blacks ran in an impressive seven tries while restricting the Irish to just two, with one of those coming in the form of a penalty try. Tevita Li and Richard Mo'unga scored two apiece for the All Blacks, while James Tucker, Mitchell Drummond and Lachlan Boshier chipped in with tries of their own as New Zealand came back to win from 23-21 down at half-time.
Ireland scored all of their points in a blistering first-half, securing a penalty try and then a score from Oisin Heffernan as the two sides galloped along at an even pace. But the All Blacks accelerated after half-time to score three tries without reply, while Damian McKenzie had a decent afternoon with the boot. Although the fly-half did not have a penalty kick at goal all afternoon, his conversions allowed New Zealand to punish Ireland with every score they made.
While third place will come as little comfort to the proud rugby nation of New Zealand, their opponents in this play-off were no slouches and their free-scoring victory bodes well for the future.
Australia produced a remarkable comeback against France, winning the fifth-place play-off 34-27 after trailing 17-0 inside the 20 minutes. France enjoyed the majority of early territory and possession before Australia captain Sean McMahon inspired the initial fightback with a brace of tries - brushing aside five defenders in surging to the line for his team's much-needed opener. Andrew Kellaway then claimed a double to equal the all-time Junior World Championship try-scoring record, with 10, before hooker Harry Scoble crossed five-minutes before full-time to give Australia a lead they would not relinquish.
Wales finished seventh in the competition thanks to a 20-3 victory over Samoa. Last year's runners-up managed three tries to give themselves an uplifting send-off from an otherwise disappointing tournament. Scores came from Dafydd Howells and James Benjamin, who crossed twice in an impressive personal display. Samoa were limited to a single first-half penalty on a day when the Wales scrum was too strong for the Pacific Islanders. Dominance in the forwards, plus sloppiness on the penalty count from Samoa, meant a hard-fought match went in the favour of Wales.
Argentina saved their best for last in beating Scotland 41-21 in a remarkable see-sawing fixture at QBE Stadium in Albany. They led 20-0 early through tries from Tomas Lezana and Santiago Montagner, but Scotland were good with ball in hand and they reduced the margin to five points when Gavin Lowe touched down with 15 minutes to play. Argentina then ran away with the match after captain Patricio Fernandez intercepted a pass with Scotland on attack to run 80 metres to push his side further ahead.
Italy defeated Fiji for the first time at under-20 level, at the third time of asking, winning 22-17 at QBE Stadium to relegate the islanders to the 2015 IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy competition. The Azzurri created plenty of opportunities and they should have wrapped up victory much earlier, but still they did enough to win despite a last-minute try from Fiji. Japan will replace Fiji in the 2015 Junior World Championship, which will come as another boost to the fast-developing rugby nation.
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