There may not have been any shock results but there was no shortage of tries or moments of individual brilliance on the opening day of Under-20 World Cup 2015.
England got their bid for a third consecutive U20 World Cup title off to a winning start with a 59-7 defeat of Japan, although they didn't have it all their own way in the second half thanks to the "passion and commitment" of their opponents in the words of captain Charlie Ewels.
New Zealand recorded the biggest win on the opening day with a 68-10 defeat of Scotland, while by contrast Ireland left it until the final kick of the match to snatch an 18-16 victory over Argentina in the other Pool C match in Parma.
They top their respective pools with 2014 runners-up South Africa top of Pool B after a hard-fought 33-5 win over hosts Italy, albeit only on point differential from Australia, the 34-22 conquerors of Samoa in a match which saw captain Andrew Kellaway become the all-time leading try-scorer in the U20 Championship in his own right with 11.
The other victorious side on day one were France, who capitalised on a fast-start to eventually overcome Wales 19-10.
Ireland 18-16 Argentina
Tomas Quinlan had earlier been Ireland’s hero at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, the replacement holding his nerve to slot a penalty from the right touchline with time up on the clock to snatch an 18-16 victory over Argentina.
Argentina looked to have sneaked the victory in the first meeting between the two sides at the U20 World Cup since 2010 when fullback Emiliano Boffelli kicked a 77th minute penalty, Los Pumitas finally earning a reward for a period of pressure having already been held up over the line.
Ireland, semifinalists in 2014, would have been disappointed to have only led 9-6 at half-time, thanks to three penalties from flyhalf Joey Carbery, who stepped seamlessly into the No.10 shirt after the loss of key man Ross Byrne to injury last week.
The Irish had enjoyed the best attacking opportunities, their backline creating chances on both flanks but handling errors and last-ditch Argentine tackling kept them at bay with Los Pumitas’ replying with a penalty and drop goal from flyhalf Domingo Miotti.
Argentina made the best possible start to the second-half, a break by captain Bautista Ezcurra resulting in the ball being recycled for replacement Santiago Portillo to find space to squeeze over in the corner. Miotti slotted the conversion but two Carbery penalties pushed Ireland back ahead 15-13.
"I am happy with the result!" admitted Ireland coach Nigel Carolan.
"I was certainly happy with the amount of opportunities we created, particularly in the first-half, and if it was represented on the scoreboard it might have been a different game. I thought the character our team showed at the end to get back to get the penalty I thought it was tremendous work rate and effort."
Argentina captain Bautista Ezcurra says his side cannot afford to dwell on their heartbreaking defeat to Ireland.
"It was a very tough game, a lot of physicality, all the contact and rucks were disputed. I think we weren't too good in the lineouts maybe, we didn't have a lot of possession in the first-half, and we had to make a huge effort in defence but in the end things like this happen," said Ezcurra.
"For the guys it is very disappointing, but in a World Cup you have to turn the page right away and think about New Zealand. It is tough but we have to do that."
Pens: Carberry 5, Quinlan
Pens: Miotti, Boffelli
Ireland: 15 Billy Dardis, 14 Ciaran Gaffney, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Sam Arnold, 11 Stephen Fitzgerald, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Nick McCarthy (captain), 8 Lorcan Dow, 7 Rory Moloney, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Alex Thompson, 4 David O’Connor, 3 Oisin Heffernan, 2 Zack McCall, 1 Jeremy Loughman.
Replacements: 16 Sean McNulty, 17 Andrew Porter, 18 Conan O’Donnell, 19 Jack Dwan, 20 Nick Timoney, 21 Charlie Rock, 22 Tomas Quinlan, 23 Jacob Stockdale.
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Eugenio Achilli, 13 Tomás Granella, 12 Bautista Ezcurra (captain), 11 Santiago Resino, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Lautaro Bazán Vélez, 8 Ernesto Olmedo, 7 Lucas Gasparri, 6 José Deheza, 5 Ignacio Larrague, 4 Vittorio Rosti, 3 Cristian Bartoloni, 2 Ignacio Calles, 1 Javier Díaz.
Replacements: 16 Gaspar Baldunciel, 17 Nicolás Ocello, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Ignacio Calas, 20 Santiago Portillo, 21 Patricio Baronio, 22 Ignacio Albornoz y 23 Juan Cruz Mallía.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Wales 10-19 France
France had earlier raced out of the blocks at the Stadio San Michele, scoring two tries in the first 13 minutes through winger Arthur Bonneval and fullback Thomas Ramos, the latter converting his own try to leave Wales trailing 0-12.
Les Bleuets were attacking the Welsh defence at will with Ramos dangerous every time he got his hands on the ball, but Wales finally got on the board with a penalty for Daniel Jones on the half hour after lengthy treatment on a knee injury for captain Rory Thornton.
Anthony Meric thought he had scored France’s third try of the match only to have it ruled out and Ramos missed then two penalty attempts to increase the advantage early in the second-half. However, he then set in motion a move that went almost the length of the pitch for Lucas Blanc to dot down.
Ramos found centre Damian Penaud – the son of former France international Alain – who raced down the left touchline before sending Blanc over with the conversion making it 19-3 and seemingly a killer blow for Wales’ hopes of a winning start to the Championship.
However, Wales were not ready to throw in the towel and Garyn Smith powered over by the posts, the centre coming at pace onto a pass following a five-metre scrum. The score revitalised Wales, but try as they did they were unable to claw back any more points, being held up once over the line, and it was only some impressive defence which kept France from adding to the 19-10 score-line.
"It is a very important win, we started well and we scored early in the match, then in the second-half there was a good reaction from Wales and we struggled also for the difficult weather conditions because it was very hot today," said France manager Fabien Pelous.
"The most important thing was the win, we played against them in the Six Nations but today was harder because in the second-half they were able to play their rugby."
Tries: Bonneval, Ramos, Blanc
Cons: Ramos 2
Wales: 15 Dafydd Howells, 14 Lloyd Lewis, 13 Owen Watkin, 12 Garyn Smith, 11 Joshua Adams, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Tom Williams, 8 Harrison Keddie, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Tom Phillips, 5 Rory Thornton (captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Luke Garrett.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Keagan Bale, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Jon Fox, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Barney Nightingale.
France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Damien Penaud, 12 Elliot Roudil, 11 Lucas Blanc, 10 Lucas Méret, 9 Anthony Méric, 8 Fabien Sanconnié, 7 Lucas Bachelier (captain), 6 Sekou Macalou, 5 Julien Delannoy, 4 Tristan Labouteley, 3 Mickaël Simutoga, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Thibaut Estorge.
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq, 17 Clément Castets, 18 Quentin Bethune, 19 Mathieu Tanguy, 20 Mathieu Ugéna, 21 Gauthier Doubrère, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Alexandre Pilati.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Stefano Pennè (Italy)
England 59-7 Japan
England kicked off the defence of their U20 World Cup title with a 59-7 victory over tournament newcomers Japan at the Stadio San Michele, Calvisano.
In a dominant and composed first-half England built a strong 45-0 lead with tries from George Perkins, Jack Walker, Tom Howe and two
apiece for Aaron Morris and Stuart Townsend.
Japan were not however to be completely undone and following the break kept England under pressure with a passionate and determined performance.
England head coach Jon Callard said: "I am pleased with that performance, we came out of the blocks and started really well. We were clinical with the opportunities that presented themselves to us.
"Second-half we emptied the bench and Japan found momentum. To their credit, they were very good and stretched us on the edge with their attacking play.
"We are through the first game and will be all the better for the experience of dealing with the heat and conditions out here."
England opened the scoring within the first minute through George Perkins which Rory Jennings converted. A second was added minutes later when hooker Jack Walker charged over in the corner, again Jennings was on target.
Just before the half hour mark Japan began building some phases with periods of attack in England’s half but strong work at the breakdown by Paul Hill caused Japan to be penalised for not releasing. Townsend took the penalty quickly, sprinting down field to claim his second in an all round authoritative performance.
Tom Howe, making his first England start, added one more just before half time, again created by Tompkins – this time a perfectly weighted grubber.
Replacement Sam Skinner got the score board ticking within minutes of the second-half. It looked like Japan had responded when Tevita Tatafu drove over the line, much to the delight of the crowd however it was disallowed for obstruction.
Buoyed by their efforts, Japan remained on the offensive and were eventually rewarded with a penalty try when Max Clark saw yellow for a deliberate knock on. Ryuji Noguchi converted to claim the full seven points with twenty minutes left to play.
Momentum remained with Japan until the final ten minutes when England pushed for a final score and it was debutant Will Witty who went over.
Tries: Perkins, Walker, Townsend 2, Morris 2, Howe, Skinner, Witty
Con: Jennings 7
Try: Penalty Try
Yellow card: Max Clarke (England, 60)
England: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 George Perkins, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Max Clark, 11 Tom Howe, 10 Rory Jennings, 9 Stuart Townsend, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Will Owen, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Will Witty, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Sebastian Adeniran-Olule, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Charlie Beckett, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Piers O’Conor.
Japan: 15 Ryuji Noguchi, 14 Seiya Ozaki, 13 Keisei Kasahara, 12 Yusuke Kajimura, 11 Hirofumi Higashikawa, 10 Taisetsu Kanai, 9 Ryuji Yonemura, 8 Tevita Tatafu, 7 Kosuke Urabe, 6 Faulua Mikisi, 5 Mitsuru Furukawa, 4 Hiroto Kato, 3 Tatsuya Kakimoto, 2 Kosuke Horikoshi (captain), 1 Shogo Miura.
Replacements: 16 Ryosuke Iwaihara, 17 Ryoma Kuhara, 18 Yuma Fujino, 19 Tomoki Saitam, 20 Go Maeda, 21 Daiki Nakajima, 22 Ataata Moeakiola, 23 Yuta Yamada.
Referee: Elia Rizzo (Italy)
Assistant referees: Filippo Bertelli (Italy), Luca Trentin (Italy)
Australia 34-22 Samoa
Australia scored five tries to claim a bonus point 34-22 win against Samoa in their opening clash of the U20 World Cup in Italy on Tuesday.
Fullback Jonah Placid scored two tries to guide the young Aussies to victory but it was Captain, Andrew Kellaway who sealed Samoa’s fate with a try late in the match to make Kellaway the top try scorer at U20 World Cups with 11 tries.
Australia U20 head coach, Adrian Thompson was satisfied with the win.
"We always knew it was going to be a difficult challenge to win today," said Thompson.
"Samoa proved their quality at the Oceania Junior Championship last month and this was one of the games that caused us great concern.
"The lineouts and the breakdown need improvement and we will be looking at this in the coming days before we take on Italy."
Kellaway speaking to World Rugby: "It was a bit scrappy but all in all it was a good win. We’ll go away and work on what we need to work on for the next game but all in all happy with the win.
"We really respected Samoa and certainly expected them to go the full 80."
Tries: Gunn, Placid 2, Deegan, Kellaway
Cons: Deegan 3
Tries: Winterstein, Dowsing, Adams
Cons: Falanniko 2
Yellow cards: Lukan Lealaiauloto-Tui (Australia, 36), Mike Tamoaieta (Samoa, 48)
Australia: 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Sione Tuipolotu, 11 Andrew Kellaway (captain), 10 Andrew Deegan, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Adam Korczyk, 7 Michael Gunn, 6 Lolo Fakaosilea, 5 Lukan Lealaiauloto-Tui, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Matt Sandell, 2 Connal McInerney, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 Fereti Saaga, 17 Folau Faingaa, 18 Tyrell Lomax, 19 Riley Winter, 20 Sam Croke, 21 Harry Nucifora, 22 James Dalgleish, 23 James Dalgleish.
Samoa: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Trent Winterstein, 13 Pepesana Patafilo, 12 Jonathan Faauli, 11 Ah-Mu Tuimalealiifano, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Jonathan Taumateine, 8 Josh Dowsing (captain), 7 Uini Fetalaiga, 6 Giovanni Kueffner-Mulitalo, 5 Ben Tuiomanufili, 4 Ezra Meleisea, 3 Mike Tamoaieta, 2 Elia Elia, 1 Junior Halafuka.
Replacements: 16 Ieremia Mataena, 17 Jarred Adams, 18 Marco Fepulea, 19 Jordan Jackett, 20 Gordon Langkilde, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 Orbyn Leger, 23 Malu Falanniko.
Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (Wales), Gianluigi Rossi (Italy)
South Africa 33-5 Italy
Italy were under no illusions as to the size of the task awaiting them with South Africa their first opponents, but they gave the Calvisano crowd cause to cheer after only 11 minutes when Yannick Agbasse raced 70 metres down the line to score a first try against their opponents in U20 World Cup history.
The South Africans hit back within minutes when hooker Jan van der Merwe crashed over from close range, but they continually found the Italians hard to break down in the hot conditions as they went in search of the convincing victory that many would have predicted for them before kick-off.
The Junior Springboks twice spilled the ball with the try-line begging, but a yellow card for Italian second-row Davide Zanetti in the 33rd minute proved decisive with the Junior Springboks scoring two tries in his absence, the first a penalty try and the second coming when captain Hanro Liebenberg dived on a loose ball to make it 21-5 at half-time.
The minimum South Africa would have been looking for from the match was a bonus-point win but with a combination of good Italian defence and some indecisive play from the Junior Springboks it took them until the 65th minute to score a fourth try, through flanker Rikus Bothma.
South Africa finished the match with 14-men after RG Snyman was sin-binned but they were still able to cross the try-line one final time, Frans van Wyk – who had provided some much-needed spark off the bench – touching down.
"It was a rusty start for us and we have no excuses," admitted Liebenberg.
"Italy always play fast running rugby and did well. We can improve our lineouts and ball control, although the ball was wet and it was difficult conditions. We did better in the second-half, but the first half was poor."
For South Africa:
Tries: Van der Merwe, Penalty try, Liebenberg, Bothma, Van Wyk
Cons: Thomson 3, De Beer
Yellow cards: Davide Zanetti (Italy, 36), Rudolph Snyman (South Africa, 73)
Italy: 15 Giacomo de Santis, 14 Yannick Agbasse, 13 Pietro Lamaro, 12 Matteo Gabbianelli, 11 Tommaso Beraldinn, 10 Maicol Azzolini, 9 Matteo Ferrari, 8 Matteo Cornelli, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Ugo D’Onofrio, 4 Davide Zanetti, 3 Andrea Cincotto, 2 Luhandre Luus, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio (captain).
Replacements: 16 Edoardo Ferraro, 17 Federico Pavesi, 18 Dino Dallavalle, 19 Samuele Ortis, 20 Matteo Archetti, 21 Riccardo Raaffaele, 22 Matteo Minozzi, 23 Luca Sperandio.
South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Khanyo Ngcukana, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 John Jackson, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Rikus Bothma, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Abongile Nonkontwana, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Jan van der Merwe, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Njabulo Gumede, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19. Jason Jenkins, 20 Dan du Preez, 21 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Malcolm Jaer.
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Stefano Pennè (Italy)
New Zealand 68-10 Scotland
New Zealand showed their class with a 68-10 victory over Scotland to go the top of Pool C in emphatic fashion.
Scotland started the first-half well showing desire which was complemented by their air of confidence.
After 15 minutes, Scotland, playing in their alternative red strips, held a 10-3 lead over their 14 men opposition with Rory Hutchinson
knocking over a penalty and adding the extras to a well-worked Lewis Carmichael try.
However, New Zealand retaliated in fine fashion scoring three tries of their own through fullback George Bridge, wing Tevita Li and flank Akira Ioane. Flyhalf Mitchell Hunt successfully added the extras to all the scores, as well as knocking over two penalty attempts, to give the All Blacks a 27-10 lead at the break.
New Zealand stepped on the gas in the second-half and went on to claim a further 41 points before the end of the game, with Scotland failing to register any further scores.
Despite a gutsy performance from the Scots, the All Blacks crossed the line six times in the second period, with the clinical boot of Hunt slotting a further four conversions and a penalty to take his personal tally to 28 for the game.
For New Zealand:
Tries: Bridge, Li, Ioane, Gibson, Karpik, Goodhue, Cridge, Hunt, Faiane
Cons: Hunt 7
Pens: Hunt 3
Yellow cards: Jack Goodhue (New Zealand, 11), Archie Russell (Scotland, 47)
New Zealand: 15 George Bridge, 14 Nathaniel Apa, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Tinoai Faiane, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Blake Gibson, 7 Mitchell Karpik, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 James Blackwell, 4 Joshua Goodhue, 3 Atunaisa Moli (captain), 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Ricky Riccitelli.
Replacements: 16 Steven Misa, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Isileli Tu'ungafasi, 19 Geoffrey Cridge, 20 Henry Stowers, 21 Harrison Levien, 22 Luteru Laulala, 23 Sean Wainui.
Scotland: 15 Ruairi Howarth, 14 Robbie Nairn, 13 Archie Russell, 12 Tom Galbraith, 11 Alec Coombes, 10 Rory Hutchinson, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Ally Miller, 7 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 6 Lewis Wynne, 5 Lewis Carmichael, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Callum Sheldon, 2 Sam James, 1 Dan Elkington.
Replacements: 16 Ross Graham, 17 Murray McCallum, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Neil Irvine-Hess, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 George Horne, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Richard Galloway.
Referee: Juan Sylvestre (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Carlo Damasco (Italy)