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NZ claim Rugby Champs U20 title, Junior Boks end on a high

ROUND THREE WRAP: The New Zealand Under-20 side won the inaugural Rugby Championship U20 title on Sunday after a 36-25 win over Australia in Bokarina.

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In the day’s earlier match, the Junior Springboks ended their tournament with a thrilling 30-28 victory over Argentina.

Flyhalf Philip-Albert van Niekerk kicked a last-minute penalty goal after a sensational start and a strong second half at the Sunshine Coast Stadium in Australia on Sunday.

The Junior Boks would have been happy with the victory, but there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially at line-out time.

However, they showed great character in the second half to overturn a 14-point half-time deficit into a two-point victory in the match played in sunny conditions with a light wind, a welcome respite after the rain in the first two rounds.

After a great start, with Jurenzo Julius (outside centre) scoring a try in the opening exchanges from a turnover at the kick-off, the South Africans allowed Argentina back into the game through a combination of unforced errors, bad decision making and losing possession on the ground.

They showed some good intent on attack early on, and when asked were solid on defence, but the Junior Boks lost their first four line-outs, a few of them deep in Argentine territory, which is inexcusable at international level.

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Their scrums were solid for most of the match and they applied a lot of pressure in this phase in the second half, there were more line-out woes for the Junior Boks after the break, resulting in the team opting for quick-tap penalties in the Argentinean 22 – a tactic that had the desired effect in the end.

After the Junior Boks’ strong start, Argentina slowly built confidence on the back of forward ascendancy, and scored their first try after 27 minutes when Franco Rossetto (left wing) went over after they found space on a small blind side from a ruck inside their own half, and Facundo Rodriguez’s (flyhalf) conversion made it 7-7.

A few minutes later, Ezekiel Ngobeni (scrumhalf) was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and when he came back early in the second half, it was 21-7 to Argentina as Rossetto added two more tries to his tally, with Los Pumitas making the most of their numerical advantage to allow their speedster a first-half hat-trick.

Whatever Junior Bok coach Bafana Nhleko said during the break, clearly made an impact as the SA U20s came out firing. After another attacking line-out going awry, the tireless Tiaan Jacobs (No.8) crashed over from a quick tap penalty with Van Niekerk’s conversion making it 21-14 in the 46th minute.

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Ten minutes later, Casper Badenhorst (replacement prop) also barged over from a tap penalty in the Argentinean 22, but the conversion went wide and suddenly it was a two-point game.

When Argentina were shown a yellow card with just under 15 minutes to go, the Junior Boks took their chance with a penalty goal by Van Niekerk, followed by a third try from a tap penalty by SA U20 captain Zachary Porthen (prop) to put them in a 27-21 lead.

Rossetto gave Los Pumitas some hope with his fourth try five minutes before the end, and Santino Di Lucca’s (replacement back) sideline conversion gave Argentina a one-point lead, but the Junior Boks held their composure, worked themselves into a favourable field position and Van Niekerk did the rest after the hooter had sounded.

*Australia made the Kiwis work for their win until the very last minute in the day’s second match, but it was New Zealand’s day for history on the Sunshine Coast.

Australia got on the board first with a penalty from Reds playmaker Harry McLaughlin-Phillips in the fourth minute.

However, New Zealand started to look stronger as the game went on.

New Zealand outscored the home side by five tries to three in the match with Stanley Solomon getting a brace.

However, Australia managed to stay in touch for most of the game and they were only six points behind at half-time.

See below for Sunday’s scores and scorers!

Australia 25-36 New Zealand

The scorers:

For Australia:
Tries: McCulloch 2, Sawers
Cons: McLaughlin-Phillips 2
Pens: McLaughlin-Phillips 2

For New Zealand:
Tries: Taele, Letiu, Pledger, Solomon 2
Cons: Coles, Simpson 3
Pen: Coles

Teams:

Australia: 15 Angus Staniforth, 14 Xavier Rubens, 13 Divad Palu, 12 Ronan Leahy, 11 Will McCulloch, 10 Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, 9 Doug Philipson, 8 Jack Harley, 7 Dane Sawers, 6 Aden Ekanayake, 5 Harvey Cordukes, 4 Toby Macpherson (captain), 3 Nick Bloomfield, 2 Ottavio Tuipulotu, 1 Jack Barrett.
Replacements: 16 Bryn Edwards, 17 Lington Ieli, 18 Tevita Alatini, 19 Ben Daniels, 20 Ben Di Staso, 21 Hwi Sharples, 22 Joey Fowler, 23 Boston Fakafanua.

New Zealand: 15 Isaac Hutchinson, 14 King Maxwell, 13 Xavi Taele, 12 Tofuka Paongo, 11 Stanley Solomon, 10 Rico Simpson, 9 Dylan Pledger, 8 Malachi Wrampling, 7 Johnny Lee, 6 Tristyn Cook, 5 Liam Jack, 4 Tom Allen, 3 Joshua Smith, 2 Vernon Bason (captain), 1 Will Martin.
Replacements: 16 Manumaua Letiu, 17 Sika Pole, 18 Kurene Luamanuvae, 19 Andrew Smith, 20 Jeremiah Avei-Collins, 21 Ben O’Donovan, 22 Sam Coles, 23 Aki Tuivailala.

Referee: Nehuen Jauri Rivero (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby (South Africa) & James Palmer (Australia)
TMO: Richard Kelly (New Zealand)

South Africa 30-28 Argentina

The scorers:

For Junior Springboks:
Tries: Julius, Jacobs, Badenhorst, Porthen
Cons: Van Niekerk 2
Pens: Van Niekerk 2

For Argentina:
Tries: Rossetto 4
Cons: Rodriguez 3, Santino Di Lucca

Teams:

South Africa: 15 Bruce Sherwood, 14 Joel Leotlela, 13 Jurenzo Julius, 12 Joshua Boulle, 11 Litelihle Bester, 10 Philip-Albert van Niekerk, 9 Ezekiel Ngobeni, 8 Tiaan Jacobs, 7 Bathobele Hlekani, 6 Sibabalwe Mahashe, 5 JF van Heerden, 4 Thomas Dyer, 3 Zachary Porthen (captain), 2 Juan Smal, 1 Ruan Swart.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Bester, 17 Liyema Ntshanga, 18 Casper Badenhorst, 19 Thabang Mphafi, 20 Divan Fuller, 21 Asad Moos, 22 Thurlon Williams, 23 JC Mars.

Argentina: 15 Benjamín Elizalde, 14 Timothy Silva, 13 Faustino Sánchez Valarolo, 12 Tomás Medina, 11 Franco Rossetto, 10 Facundo Rodríguez, 9 Tomás Di Biase, 8 Ignacio Torrado, 7 Santos Fernández De Oliveira, 6 Juan Penoucos, 5 Álvaro García Iandolino, 4 Efraín Elías (captain), 3 Tomás Rapetti, 2 Juan Greising Revol, 1 Diego Correa.
Replacements: 16 Juan Manuel Vivas, 17. Gonzalo Gargallo Bazán, 18 Gael Galván, 19 Luciano Asevedo , 20 Juan Pedro Bernasconi, 21. Jerónimo Llorens, 22Santino Di Lucca, 23 Tomás Bocco.

Referee: Dan Waenga (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand) & Mike Winter (New Zealand)
TMO: Richard Kelly (New Zealand)

Additional source: @RugbyPass

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