Under-20 Championship: Round Two Results

Overnight in Manchester, England the World Rugby Under-20 Championship continued. Round two games were played in all three Pools between the 12 competing nations and there were massive upsets and ill-discipline, that will alter the standings after these Round two results.

Under-20 Championship: Round Two Results

RESULTS – Saturday June 11

POOL A – New Zealand 24 Ireland 33 | Wales 10 Georgia 9

POOL B – Australia 38 Italy 10 | England 44 Scotland 0

POOL C – France 46 Japan 14 | South Africa  13 Argentina 19

That Argentine game, and the Irish Under-20 (U20) team defeating New Zealand, has really put ‘the cat among the pigeons’.

Under-20 Championship: Round Two Results

Four matches finished with predictable wins but the other two matches were superb efforts from teams not assumed to be threats pre-tournament. Firstly Argentina faced South Africa and might have targeted this match, as their match of the round-robin. If they had, then the Pumitas proved to be a match to the Baby Boks.

History was in the South African camps favour but no-one tells the South American team what to believe, but themselves. The positive feeling in Argentina, in that region would mean the group needed to hit hard and if you are a rugby purist, a score of 6-6 at halftime would not have alarmed. It was as a result of two bull-headed sides testing but not cracking the other. Early penalties only just prolonged the wait for either side to apply sufficient pressure.

Fly-half Domingo Miotti kicked 14 points during the match, and he seemed to be driving the side in a conservative manner. This is often the team strategy, and then an opportunity presented itself. Bok player James Hall was guilty of an tip-tackle and his time in the bin allowed the South Americans to compensate. The combined will of the Argentine team was tested, and even the late penalty for the South African team was unable to swing the game their way. Captain Jeremy Ward: “I think it just comes down to discipline. We played 20 minutes with 14 men and it really cost us today. We’re disappointed because we came here to win. But credit to Argentina, they played with passion and made it very hard for us.”

Argentina coach Nicolas Fernandez Lobbe explained “Passion is everything with Argentina and it was the difference for us today.” As simple as that really. They wanted it more and similar to 2014 in Auckland when the Boks were beaten in the final by a similarly enthusiastic side. If the Africans are to survive for a possible semi-final match, they will need to be more inventive. And score more tries.

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In what can only be claimed as ‘one of the greatest days in Irish rugby’s history’ their U20 side mirrored the senior team in another big-upset this weekend [Ireland beat the Springboks 20-26] Facing current U20 World Champions New Zealand, the team from the Emerald Isle were unfazed in their task. Led by ___ in wet conditions, it favoured Ireland in their style of game.

After the rousing haka, it was the Baby Blacks who crossed first. Jordie Barrett (younger brother of All Blacks player Beauden) took a short ball and crashed through the Irish line. That gave the NZ team confidence, which was bolstered when Ireland had a man sent to the bin. On the counter-attack, Shaun Stevenson made a beautiful chip-and-chase out wide to cross. Would this open up a floodgate? No, and the young Irishmen soon answered back. A lineout near the blacks line was too easily converted into points; NZ coach Scott Robertson will need to remedy that fault in their arsenal.

In a positive twist, Adam McBurney; the man sent to the bin, repaid his mates and put his nation in front. Too many NZ players hung off a powerful maul which went over 20 metres downfield to score. It was great tight play, and saw the Irish team go into the halftime break ahead  14-20. That would have worried NZ supporters but after the restart, the Baby Blacks used their strengths in spreading the ball and Malo Tuitama dotting down after some wonderful footwork. That was negated with a try to Irish number eight Max Deegan, who blasted over from a scrum where the Irish halfback shifted the defence in-field and left a huge blindside for Deegan. Stevenson should have covered, but he would not have stopped the big man if he had tried.

New Zealand had conceded too many penalties already, and even after Tuitama scored his second try from a quick tap, the six point deficit was near impossible to recover and a final scrum-offside penalty gave kicker Johnny McPhillips the last kick of the match to win a famous victory 24-33. A lack of composure from the NZ team resulted in jubilation at the final whistle for Ireland. “It is an incredible feeling, we spoke before the game about creating history and that it was not just another game,” said Ireland captain James Ryan, who was named man of the match.

“We dug deep in the second half and got the win. I think we did believe, we were coming in off a huge win for us over Wales and it was all about not resting on our laurels. We recovered well and were looking at this game. Of course we can win this title, but we are thinking about the next game against Georgia, but we’re not looking too far ahead.”

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Standings after two rounds

Pool A – Ireland 8 | New Zealand 6 | Wales 6 | Georgia 1

Pool B – England 10 | Australia 6 | Scotland 4 | Italy 0

Pool C – Argentina 8 | South Africa 6 | France 5 | Japan 0

A special mention goes to the fans. They persevered in the rain in Manchester, loving the action and the amount of rugby available–three matches at each venue: the Irish thrilled the fans at Manchester City Academy Stadium, while AJ Bell Stadium saw the monumental game involving Argentina and South Africa. Local fans have embraced these foreign teams and it is a credit to the organisation to schedule the matches and entertainment to suit. A full days rugby–sounds like rugby heaven.

With one final round of games, referred to as ‘Day Three’ by some media, it is the final game for these sides to reach for dreams and for goals. It will be a miracle for Japan to qualify, but the seeding’s are extremely important still. The third and fourth placed sides in each pool still have invaluable opportunities and the highest ranked teams now seem to be England (hosts) Argentina and Ireland. Who they face will decide the chances of them reaching the highest finish place.

Bonus points (BP) can also make a difference, so four-try BP or a crucial losing BP may still provide the final headlines of the tournament placings.

ROUND THREE FIXTURES – Wednesday June 15

Pool A – Ireland v Georgina, Man City Academy (Game 2)  New Zealand v Wales, AJ Bell, Salford (Game 2)

Pool B – Scotland v Italy, Manchester (Game 1) England v Australia, Salford (Game 3)

Pool C – Argentina v Japan, AJ Bell Stadium, Salford (Game 1) South Africa v France, Manchester (Game 3)

Follow all the results of the Under-20 Championship here on Last World On Sports.

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