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Junior Boks and NZ share spoils in Rugby Champs U20 opener

ROUND ONE WRAP: The Junior Springboks and New Zealand played to a 13-all draw in their Rugby Championship Under-20 opener at the Sunshine Coast Stadium on Thursday.

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The match was played in very wet and windy conditions, with a heavy downpour before the game creating puddles of water all over the field.

The swirling wind, mostly in the South Africans’ faces in the first half, further complicated matters.

The wet conditions made handling difficult and the Junior Boks struggled at the breakdowns, but they were very strong on defence. The SA U20s only had one attacking opportunity but could not make it count.

New Zealand enjoyed territorial advantage in the first half, and a penalty goal on the half-hour mark by Isaac Hutchison was the only points of the half, as the Kiwis hit the sheds leading by 3-0.

The game opened up in the second half when New Zealand stretched their lead to 8-0 when Stanley Solomon went over in the left corner from an attacking scrum in the 50th minute.

The Junior Boks knuckled down though and Tylor Sefoor (flyhalf) landed his first penalty goal just before the hour-mark to make it 8-3.

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Moments later, the Junior Boks pounced with Joel Leotlela going over under the posts after great work done by Bruce Sherwood as the SA U20s capitalised on a mistake under a kick by New Zealand.

After Sefoor’s conversion and a second penalty goal four minutes later, after a massive scrum, the Junior Boks were suddenly leading by 13-8, and it could have been more had the SA U20 flyhalf not missed another attempt at a penalty.

With seven minutes to go, Joshua Boulle was yellow carded and a few minutes later, New Zealand scored their second try when Frank Vaenuku went over in the right-hand corner, but the wind pushed the conversion wide to make it 13-13, which is how it ended shortly thereafter.

Argentina too good for Australia

‘Meanwhile, After a convenient 80-minute break for the opening game of the day, the rain returned to welcome Australia and Argentina to the field at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

In trying conditions, it was inevitably the stronger forward pack that won the contest, and that honour comfortably went to Argentina with a 25-6 win.

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The teams had learnt from the match prior, a 13-all draw between New Zealand and South Africa, that points would be hard to come by in the conditions and so opted to take the three points when on offer.

The sodden pitch made accuracy around the breakdown a little extra challenging and both teams were guilty of penalties around the ruck early.

The inaccuracies saw the game reach a three-all scoreline by the 10th minute. The wind was in favour of the Australians but the territory game didn’t necessarily reflect that.

Argentina’s forward pack proved dominant early on in the scrum and the team used it to their advantage, charging forward with line-out maul drives that covered 20-odd metres.

The Argentinian team struggled to capitalise on their dominance though, with two missed penalties, the latter from a favourable angle leaving the game tied.

Things got worse for the Australians when No.8 Jack Harley was handed a yellow card, leading to an Argentinian try just a minute later. Santino Di Lucca added the extras.

Argentina started the second half in fine form with a try to Juan Pedro Bernasconi from close range. The conversion went awry but just moments later Di Lucca had a chance at redemption and landed a penalty to make the lead 15.

The hosts then found their feet on attack, with an ambitious chip and chase collected by centre Jarrah McLeod, spurring a classic Australian chant from the crowd.

Execution issues saw the chance to capitalise on that momentum go begging, with both handling and line-out troubles to blame.

Argentina remained composed under the pressure but with the wildest downpour of the day drenching the field, the ball was spilled off a 22m drop-out and Australia charged upfield once more.

The attack finally earned a penalty and Australia opted to take the three points, cutting the lead to 12.

Argentina’s reserve front row may not have offered the same dominance as the starters but they earned a timely penalty in the 63rd minute, pushing play into Australia’s half.

The rain made handling errors almost inevitable and scrums dominated the action. Although the Australian pack stepped up for a period, the visitors went back to the scrum time after time.

The final quarter of the contest was slow with more time spent setting for scrums than playing with the ball in hand.

Argentina set up camp in the Australian 22 for the final 10 minutes, and just after Australia was issued a warning for their indiscretions at scrum time, there was just two phases needed to score a game-sealing try.

The scores and scorers:

Junior Boks 13-13 New Zealand

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Try: Leotlela
Con: Sefoor
Pens: Sefoor 2

For New Zealand:
Tries: Solomon, Vaenuku
Pen: Hutchinson

Yellow card: Joshua Boulle (South Africa, 72′)

Teams

South Africa: 15 Michail Damon, 14 Joel Leotlela, 13 Jurenzo Julius, 12 Bruce Sherwood, 11 Litelihle Bester, 10 Tylor Sefoor, 9 Asad Moos, 8 Tiaan Jacobs, 7 Bathobele Hlekani, 6 Sibabalwe Mahashe, 5 Adam de Waal, 4 Thomas Dyer, 3 Zachary Porthen (captain), 2 Juan Smal, 1 Ruan Swart.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Bester, 17 Mbasa Maqubela, 18 Reno Hirst, 19 JF van Heerden, 20 Thabang Mphafi, 21 Ezekiel Ngobeni,22 Thurlon William, 23 Joshua Boulle.

New Zealand: 15 Isaac Hutchinson, 14 Frank Vaenuku, 13 Aki Tuivailala, 12 Xavi Taele, 11 Stanley Solomon, 10 Cooper Grant, 9 Ben O’Donovan, 8 Malachi Wrampling, 7 Johnny Lee, 6 Andrew Smith, 5 Liam Jack, 4 Tom Allen, 3 Joshua Smith, 2 Vernon Bason (captain), 1 Will Martin.
Replacements: 16 A-One Lolofie, 17 Senio Sanele, 18 Kurene Luamanuvae, 19 Cam Christie, 20 Mosese Bason, 21 Dylan Pledger, 22 Rico Simpson, 23 Josh Whaanga.

Referee: Jordan Kaminski
Assistant referees: Nehuen Juari Rivero, Jeremy Markey
TMO: Brett Cronan

Australia 6-25 Argentina

The scorers:

For Australia:
Pens: Fowler 2

For Argentina:
Tries: Rossi, Pedro, Rapetti
Cons: Di Lucca, Fossati
Pens: Di Lucca 2

Teams:

Australia: 15 Shane Wilcox, 14 Will Mcculloch, 13 Jarrah Mcleod, 12 Ronan Leahy, 11 Xavier Rubens, 10 Joey Fowler, 9 Doug Philipson, 8 Jack Harley, 7 Joe Liddy, 6 Aden Ekanayake, 5 Harvey Cordukes, 4 Toby Macpherson (captain), 3 Tevita Alatini, 2 Bryn Edwards, 1 Jack Barrett.
Replacements: 16 Nathaniel Tiitii, 17 Tavi Tuipulotu, 18 Nick Bloomfield, 19 Ben Daniels, 20 Ben Di Staso, 21 Hwi Sharples, 22 Cullen Gray, 23 Angus Staniforth.

Argentina: 15 Benjamín Elizalde, 14 Franco Rossetto, 13 Faustino Sánchez Valarolo, 12 Tomás Bocco, 11 Valentín Soler Filoty, 10 Santino Di Lucca, 9 Tomás Di Biase, 8 Juan Pedro Bernasconi, 7 Santos Fernández De Oliveira, 6 Juan Penoucos, 5 Elías Efraín, 4 Álvaro García Iandolino, 3 Tomás Rapetti, 2 Vivas, Juan Manuel, 1 Diego Correa.
Relacements: 16 Marcos Camerlinckx, 17 Gonzalo Gargallo Bazán, 18 Gael Galván, 19 Luciano Asevedo, 20 Julián Rossi, 21 Genaro Podestá, 22 Mateo Fossati, 23 Timothy Silva.

Referee: Griffin Colby
Assistant referees: George Myers, James Palmer
TMO: Brett Cronan

Additional reporting by Ned Lester (@RugbyPass)

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