All-north Final at Junior World Cup
England will take on Six Nations rivals Ireland, after the hosts were simply unstoppable against South Africa and won 39-17 at Manchester City Academy Stadium on Tuesday.
England scored six tries – five of them in a scintillating first half when South Africa simply were not at the races and unable to stop wave after wave of England attack.
Tries from Max Green, Huw Taylor, Sam Aspland-Robinson, Johnny Williams and Max Malins effectively wrapped up the game by half-time, but South Africa gave themselves hope with two tries in four minutes through Edwill van der Merwe and Curwin Bosch.
There was to be no miraculous comeback though as a Harry Mallinder penalty steadied the England nerves and they scored the final try when quick hands created the space for Malins to slip a tackle and send replacement Max Wright over for number six.
Four times now England have beaten South Africa in the semifinals and it's a fourth Final in a row for the men in white.
Ireland were just as convincing in their 37-7 victory over Argentina in the other semifinal – a strong first half having laid the platform for a victory as comfortable as it looks on the scoreboard.
Two tries from fullback Jacob Stockdale either side of a 70-metre intercept try from No.8 Max Deegan gave Ireland a 21-7 lead at half-time and the boot of flyhalf Johnny Phillips kept the scoreboard ticking over after the break to ensure there was no way back for the South Americans.
Argentina finished with 14 men after replacement prop Santiago Pulella saw red for use of the head and Ireland kept playing with the clock long into the red and were rewarded when Shane Daly got the try.
We look at all the play-off action!
England 39-17 South Africa
The contender for the fastest try ever scored in an U20 Championship semifinal went to England, who managed to turn over the ball – with centre Johnny Williams having made a break and then passed inside to scrumhalf Max Green for an easy run in, to the delight of many in the Manchester City Academy Stadium crowd.
That became two tries in the opening seven minutes by England – some quick hands created space on the right flank. Hooker Jack Singleton – starting after captain Jack Walker was ruled out of the tournament through injury – was stopped just short, but a quick recycle and second row Huw Taylor's arms were long enough to reach over the line to the delight of his teammates. South Africa were turning the ball over far too much and allowing England to run at them.
South Africa may have got on the board with a penalty from their impressive fullback Curwin Bosch, but they played 10 minutes without their captain – after Jeremy Ward was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Max Malins. They survived the first attack when Joe Marchant couldn't hang on.
England got a third try with a perfect example of how to create space for your wing, quick hands and straight running along the line saw Sam Aspland-Robinson through for try number three with still half of South African captain Jeremy Ward's sin-bin to run.
It was an utterly dominant first-half display by England – with the hosts crossing for five tries.
It was almost like men against boys at times with England cutting South Africa to shreds almost at will.
Johnny Williams added a fourth and then, despite being a man down with flank Will Evans in the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle, they finished with another try for Max Malins.
Just when it seemed that a loose South African pass had gifted England another try – as Johnny Williams raced away – he was hauled down short and instead it ended up being a try down the other end.
The cross-field kick became too obvious and it was easily telegraphed by Edwill van der Merwe, the Junior Springbok wing going nearly the length of the field to give his side hope. Three minutes later and they had a second try after some direct running, Manie Libbok offloading to Curwin Bosch on his shoulder for an easy run-in under the posts.
However, it is a fourth Final in a row for England after they scored their fifth try – but first of the second half – with eight minutes to go.
Like many of their tries it came from distance, quick hands along the line and then Max Malins shrugged off a weak tackle before feeding replacement Max Wright outside him.
Tries: Green, Taylor, Aspland-Robinson, Williams, Malins, Wright
Cons: Mallinder 3
For South Africa:
Tries: Van der Merwe, Bosch
Cons: Bosch 2
Yellow cards: Jeremy Ward (South Africa, 15), Will Evans (England, 38)
England: 15 Max Malins, 14 Sam Aspland-Robinson, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Matt Gallagher, 10 Harry Mallinder (captain), 9 Max Green, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Evans, 6 George Nott, 5 Huw Taylor, 4 Stan South, 3 Billy Walker, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Lewis Boyce.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Piper, 17 Tom West, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Max Wright, 23 Ollie Thorley.
South Africa: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jeremy Ward (captain), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Junior Pokomela, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Zain Davids, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Ruben de Villiers, 3 Carlü Sadie, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Franco van den Berg.
Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18 Jaco Holtzhausen, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Denzel Hill, 21 James Hall, 22 Franco Naude, 23 Keanu Vers.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Thomas Charabas (France), Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Paul Adams (England)
Ireland 37-7 Argentina
Ireland got the scoreboard up and running through fullback Jacob Stockdale in the ninth minute. It came following a good Irish driving maul on the left, the ball eventually coming back and Johnny McPhillips put up a cross-field kick to the opposite corner, wing Matthew Bryne competing in the air and Stockdale finding his way over. Flyhalf McPhillips added the conversion, but Argentina had a chance to reply within minutes, only for his opposite number Domingo Miotti to pull the penalty attempt wide.
It might have been somewhat against the run of play – after some good possession by Argentina – but it was a good read of the play by Ireland No.8 Max Deegan to intercept scrumhalf Patricio Baronio's attempted pass on his own 22-metre line and charge up field to score his side's second try. A second conversion for Johnny McPhillips meant Irish eyes were smiling as the clock hit 25 minutes.
Argentina scored a much-needed try – with a little bit of magic from Domingo Miotti, the flyhalf putting a little dink kick through and his captain Juan Cruz Mallia raced through to dot it down.
Ireland would have been very happy with their first 40 minutes, with fullback Jacob Stockdale grabbing a brace of tries either side of a 70-metre interception score from No.8 Max Deegan.
There was just one score between half-time and the hour mark, a Johnny McPhillips penalty increasing Ireland's advantage.
Argentina already had a mountain to climb and finished the match with 14 players as replacement prop Santiago Pulella was sent off for use of the head on Ireland captain James Ryan.
The Irish lead became 23 points, after Johnny McPhillips added his third penalty of the second half.
Tries: Stockdale 2, Deegan, Daly
Cons: McPhillips 3, Connon
Pens: McPhillips 3
Red card: Santiago Pulella (Argentina, 71)
Ireland: 15 Jacob Stockdale, 14 Matthew Byrne, 13 Shane Daly, 12 Conor O'Brien, 11 Hugo Keenan, 10 Johnny McPhillips, 9 Stephen Kerins, 8 Max Deegan, 7 David Aspil, 6 Greg Jones, 5 James Ryan (captain), 4 Sean O'Connor, 3 Ben Betts, 2 Adam McBurney, 1 Andrew Porter
Replacements: 16 Vincent O'Brien, 17 James Bollard, 18 Vakh Abdaladze, 19 Evan Mintern, 20 Kelvin Brown, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Jimmy O'Brien
Argentina: 15 Bautistia Delguy, 14 Tomás Malanos, 13 Juan Cruz Mallía (captain), 12 Santiago Mare, 11 Julián Dominguez, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Patricio Baronio, 8 Vicente Boronat, 7 Mariano Romanini, 6 Marcos Kremer, 5 Ignacio Calas, 4 Franco Molina, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Gasper Baldunciel, 1 Rubén Ricco
Replacements: 16 Román Pretz, 17 Santiago Pulella, 18 Gonzalo del Pazo, 19 Conrado Roura, 20 Bautista Stávile, 21 Lautaro Bazán, 22 Martin Elias, 23 Matias Lucas Osadczuk
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
Assistant referees: Elia Rizzo (Italy), Andrew Jackson (England)
TMO: Paul Adams (England)
Scotland 19-35 Australia
Australia tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax went over on four minutes after a sustained period of pressure inside the Scotland 22. Mack Mason converted and Australia were off to a flyer in this fifth place semifinal.
Scotland hit straight back though, and their first visit to the Australian 22 yielded seven points, scrumhalf Hugh Fraser sniping over from close range for a try which Adam Hastings converted.
Scotland took the lead when big Harlequins wing Robbie Nairn snapped up a loose ball on halfway and ran in a try down the right touchline without a finger laid on him.
Australia played the rest of the half a man down, after giant lock Lukhan Lealaiaulolo-Tui got yellow-carded for a high shot on Scotland flyhalf Adam Hastings.
Australia then got their noses in front, after powerful inside centre Sione Tuipoloutu cut back inside the drift defence to score his side's second try on 26 minutes.
After Scott Cummings had put Scotland in front for the first time with a try on 44 minutes, Australia reclaimed the lead with a wonderful team try, which started deep inside their own 22 and finished with centre Sione Tuipolotu crossing under the posts for his second of the match.
Tries: Fraser, Nairn, Cummings
Cons: Hastings, Fraser
Tries: Lomax, Tuipulotu 2, Wright, Jackson-Hope
Cons: Mason 5
Yellow card: Lukhan Lealaiaulolo-Tui (Australia, 30)
Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Robbie Nairn, 13 Tom Galbraith, 12 Matt McPhillips, 11 Ben Robbins, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Hugh Fraser, 8 Ally Miller, 7 Lewis Wynne, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Scott Cummings (captain), 4 Callum Hunter-Hill, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Lewis Anderson, 1 Murray McCallum.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Renwick, 17 Dan Elkington, 18 Callum Sheldon, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Scott Burnside, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Cameron Gray, 23 Reuben Norville.
Australia: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Campbell Magnay, 13 Liam Jurd, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Liam McNamara, 10 Mack Mason, 9 James Tuttle (captain), 8 Maclean Jones, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Lukhan Lealaiaulolo-Tui, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Faalalie Sione.
Replacements: 16 Edward Craig, 17 Richie Asiata, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Harrison Hockings, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Harry Nucifora, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Simon Kennewell.
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Juan Sylvestre (Argentina), Phil Watters (England)
TMO: Keith Lewis (England)
New Zealand 71-12 Wales
With only 40 seconds on the clock New Zealand already had their first try through Jonah Lowe. The defending champions won their line-out and wing Lowe found himself with a tighthead prop covering at the back and he scythed through with ease.
Wales were then rocked further as, with barely three minutes on the clock, flyhalf Daniel Jones was charged down and second row Hamish Dalzell was presented with an early Christmas present of a try.
Wales simply didn't know what day it was and were shell-shocked as New Zealand ran in a third try inside seven minutes, this time through their right wing Caleb Makene. A third conversion from Jordie Barrett and it was 21-0.
A fourth try wasn't long away as the Kiwis kept the ball alive with a between the legs pass on the right, and then Barrett put up a chip over the Welsh defence, fullback Shaun Stevenson jumping to collect it and running in unchallenged for the try.
Wales finally managed to stop the one-way traffic with an 18th-minute try by fullback Joe Gage, a crucial score after the four-try blitz inside 11 minutes from New Zealand.
The Six Nations Grand Slam winners enjoyed some prolonged pressure in the New Zealand 22, the defending champions bringing down a maul and Wales kept their composure and managed to suck in defenders for Gage to get his side on the board.
It was perhaps inevitable after a four-try blitz inside 11 minutes by New Zealand that things would peter out as the half progressed, but the defending champions were still in control at 33-5 at half-time.
New Zealand started the second half just as they did the first, although it took them just over two minutes to score a try this time.
Jordie Barrett put up another kick over the Welsh defence and Shaun Stevenson gathered it and New Zealand went close a few times before the ball went to the right with captain Leni Apisai on hand to finish it off.
There was worse news for Wales with wing Jared Rosser yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on flank Mitchell Jacobson after he supplied the final pass to Apisai.
All hopes of defending their title may have gone, but New Zealand were clearly intent on sending out a message with this performance. They scored 11 tries in blowing away Wales at the Manchester City Academy Stadium and remain on course for a fifth place finish.
Caleb Makene completed his hat-trick with a second-half double, with captain Leni Apisai, second row Quinten Strange and second for fullback Shaun Stevenson – with centre Patelesio Tomkinson having intercepted and ran virtually the length of the pitch to put the gloss on a remarkable display from New Zealand.
Wales did score a second-half try through their No.8 Harrison Keddie, but it will be scant consolation for the Six Nations champions who were second best all day.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Lowe, Dalzell, Makene 3, Stevenson 2, Moala-Liava, Apisai, Strange, Tomkinson
Cons: Barrett 7, Perofeta
Tries: Gage, Keddie
New Zealand: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Caleb Makene, 13 Patelesio Tomkinson, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Jonah Lowe, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Hapakuki Moala Liava''a, 7 Mitchell Jacobson, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Hamish Dalzell, 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Sosefo Kautai, 2 Leni Apisai (captain), 1 Sean Paranihi .
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Sean Stodart, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Marino Mikaele-Tu''u, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 TJ Va'a, 23 Malo Tuitama.
Wales: 15 Joe Gage, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Joe Thomas , 12 Billy McBryde, 10 Jared Rosser, 11 Dan Jones,9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Harrison Keddie, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Tom Phillips, 5 Seb Davies, 4 Shane Lewis-hughes, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Rhys Fawcett, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Morgan Sieniawski, 20 Shaun Evans, 21 Declan Smith, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Kieran Williams.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Thomas Charabas (France), Greg Garner (England)
TMO: Trevor Fisher (England)
Georgia 18-17 Italy
Ten minutes in and Georgia made their first visit into the Italian half with ball in hand. Poor ball retention, however, quickly stopped them in their tracks. Italy dominated from the off and were narrowly denied a try from a well-worked line-out move when tighthead prop Marco Riccioni was held up over the line.
Georgia scored from their first visit to the Italian 22, prop Tornike Mataradze going over from a driven line-out on 18 minutes. Centre Giorgi Koshadze set up the attacking platform with a powerful run and hand-off that was only stopped by Italy No.8 Giovanni Licata's tackle 15 metres out. Italy infringed at the breakdown and Georgia, sensibly as it turned out, opted to kick for the corner.
Shortly after Georgia's loosehead prop Tornike Mataradze was denied a second try for a double movement, Italy level the scores when hooker Engjel Makelara went over from a driven line-out. Leonardo Mantelli converted to put Georgia 7-5 up.
All the action was taking place between the 22s at the start of the second half with both sides unable to find a breakthrough with ball in hand, in the face of some fierce tackling. Georgia's try hero, Tornike Mataradze, left the field to a warm reception and was replaced by Ushangi Tcheishvili in the first of a flurry of replacements.
Forward power promised to get Georgia the win they craved ahead of hosting next year's edition. Junior Lelos skipper Vasil Lobzhanidze chose to turn down two shots at goal, opting for a kick to the corner and then a scrum, after a succession of penalties went against Italy, and it's from another almighty shove that Georgia got their second try, No.8 Beka Gorgadze breaking from the base and crossing on 55 minutes. Lobzhanidze missed the relatively straightforward conversion.
Beka Gorgadze was in the thick of the action once again as Georgia move two scores clear, the No.8 making hard yards down the right before play was spread to the other flank where Lado Miminoshvili was on hand to finish in the corner. Georgia missed the conversion and a penalty and Italy reduced the deficit by three when Leonardo Mantelli slotted one through the poles.
Thankfully for Georgia replacement kicker Gela Aprasidze was on target with his next attempt, after Italy were pinged for obstruction, and there was eight points in it with eight minutes to go.
Italy ended the match with a try and a conversion to close to within one point of Georgia but, there wasn't time for the restart.
Tries: Mataradze, Gorgadze, Miminoshvili
Tries: Makelara, Sperandio
Cons: Mantelli 2
Georgia: 15 Irakli Svanidze, 14 Lado Miminoshvili, 13 Giorgi Koshadze, 12 Giorgi Kveseladze, 11 Davit Meskhi, 10 David Modzgvrishvili, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze (captain), 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 6 Ilia Spanderashvili, 5 Irakli Tskhadadze, 4 Mikheil Babunashvili, 3 Lasha Tabidze, 2 Lasha Sajaia, 1 Tornike Mataradze.
Replacements: 16 Giorgi Khuroshvili, 17 Ushangi Tcheishvili, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Demur Epremidze, 20 Vano Putkaradze, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Mirian Modebadze, 23 Sandro Iluridze.
Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Lorenzo Masato, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Dario Schiabel, 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Leonardo Mantelli, 9 Riccardo Raffaele, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Giovanni Pettinelli, 6 Lorenzo Robin Masselli, 5 Davide Fragnito (captain), 4 Leonardo Krumov, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Engjel Makelara, 1 Daniele Rimpelli.
Replacements: 16 Marco Manfredi, 17 Damiano Borean, 18 Giosuè Zilocchi, 19 Giordano Baldino, 20 Davide Ciotoli, 21 Charly Trussardi, 22 Roberto Dal Zilio, 23 Andrea Bronzini.
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Juan Sylvestre (Argentina), Phil Watters (England)
TMO: Keith Lewis (England)
France 41-27 Japan
France took it to Japan from the off, in a re-run of their pool match. After several phases however, it were Les Bleuets who were penalised for holding on inside the Japanese 22. Japan cleared to touch and then built pressure of their own, and this time a try was scored after openside and captain Masato Furukawa dove over from close range. Taisetsu Kanai converted for a 7-0 lead.
It was all France since Furukawa went over and a quick bit of thinking by wing Gabriel Ngandebe got them on the board. Ngandebe, so impressive as a replacement against South Africa last time out, took a quick line-out 30 metres out and then received the ball back before powering down the left flank to score a try that went unconverted.
Two more followed, Damian Penaud setting up hooker Peato Mauvaka after a mazy midfield break and then Antonie Dupont crossed for his fourth of the tournament after taking an inside ball from halfback partner Baptiste Couilloud.
After conceding three tries in 15 minutes Japan mounted a fightback and forced their way over the line following a series of pick and goes, blindside flank Faulua Makisi joining back row colleague Furukawa on the scoresheet. The conversion attempt in the shadow of the posts was charged down by France.
Japan had one last chance before an action-packed half was up and they scored again after a pinpoint crossfield kick from Taisetsu Kanai found giant wing Ataata Moeakiola. Moeakiola gathered cleanly and dotted down for his fifth try of the tournament. Kanai was unable to convert from the touchline and it was all-square at 17-all at the break.
A two-try blitz in as many minutes put France in front again after Japan had deservedly scored the first try of the second period through Takuhei Yasuda. It was the midfield duo who masterminded the French revival, Anthony Belleau ghosting through a gap to score himself before centre partner Damian Penaud set openside Alexandre Roumat on a clear run to the line with a neat offload.
Japan were turning the screw at scrum time, however, and France were down to 14 men following the loss of captain Clement Castets to the sin-bin.
Ataata Moeakiola became joint top try scorer of the tournament with six after crossing for his second of the game. Japan's joy was short-lived, however, as 14-man France hit back with a try for replacement Christopher Kaiser from a quickly taken tap penalty. Anthony Belleau added the extras and there was seven points between the sides in this pulsating game with just under 10 to play.
The final scoring act of a frenetic game was provided by replacement prop Elias El Ansari – who cut a good line to stroll over unopposed.
Tries: Ngandebe, Mauvaka, Dupont, Belleau, Roumat, Kaiser, El Ansari
Cons: Dupont 2, Belleau
Tries: Furukawa, Makisi, Moeakiola 2, Yasuda
Yellow card: Clément Castets (France, 59)
France: 15 Guillaume Cazes, 14 Alexandre Nicoue, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Anthony Belleau, 11 Gabriel Ngandebe, 10 Antoine Dupont, 9 Baptiste Couilloud, 8 Anthony Jelonch, 7 Alexandre Roumat, 6 Jean Baptiste Grenod, 5 Mathieu Tanguy, 4 Florian Verhaeghe, 3 Michaël Simutoga, 2 Péato Mauvaka, 1 Clément Castets.
Replacements: 16 Etienne Fourcade, 17 Elias el Ansari, 18 Emerick Setiano, 19 Théo Hannoyer, 20 Matthieu Voisin, 21 Christophe Kaiser, 22 Atila Septar, 23 Martin Laveau.
Japan: 15 Takuhei Yasuda, 14 Ataata Moeakiola, 13 Shintaro Nagatomi, 12 Doga Maeda, 11 Tomoya Yamamura, 10 Taisetsu Kanai, 9 Daiki Nakajima, 8 Tevita Tatafu, 7 Masato Furukawa (captain), 6 Faulua Makisi, 5 Daichi Akiyama, 4 Tatsunari Fujita, 3 Shosuke Tashiro, 2 Keiichi Kaneko, 1 Ryosuke Iwaihara.
Replacements: 16 Ken Saito, 17 Yoshiaki Takeuchi, 18 Taku Toma, 19 Ryo Inoue, 20 Hyinchi Shin, 21 Naoto Saito, 22 Shotaru Matsuo, 23 Hiroki Yamada.
Referee: Graham Cooper (Australia)
Assistant referees: Tom Foley (England), Wayne Falla (England)
TMO: David Sainsbury (England)