Tipuric leads the way in more ways than one
By Kenji Demura
For many people, seeing a forward at the top of the leading try scorer table at this year's IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship 2009 in Japan may come as a bit of a surprise.
But having scored five tries in the opening two matches, for Wales flanker Justin Tipuric this is the case following an outstanding hat-trick against Canada on Tuesday and two in their opening Pool D match against Tonga.
Given the array of talent on display in the backlines these five tries puts Tipuric ahead of the likes of New Zealand wing Zac Guildford, the Hurricanes wing who scored a hat-trick on day one against Uruguay, and Australian pair Richard Kingi and Kurtley Beale, who equalled the Junior World Championship record of four tries in a single match against Canada.
Wales head coach Phil Davies is not surprised, however, that Tipuric is becoming famous for his try scoring heights and will be hoping that his own star can score more on Saturday against Australia in Saga.
“Justin is a very intelligent player and turns up in a position of support some players wouldn’t see. He knows how to be in the right place at the right time,” said Davies of the flanker, who has captained Wales against Tonga and Canada.
Tipuric is likely to come up against Kingi and Beale in the Pool D decider against Australia on Saturday and although he would like to add to his try count, he believes that he was just a lucky man after collective work from his teammates produced the tries.
“I was just lucky enough to be on the end of some good team moves. They had done the real hard work before I just put down the ball,” insisted the 19-year-old.
Even though they were semi finalists in the inaugural IRB Junior World Championship on their home soil and finished fourth in 2008, this year Wales were not initially considered one of the favourites.
The Welsh side have had a difficult season, having won only one match, against Italy, during the RBS Under 20 Six Nations. Add to this the disciplinary sanction imposed after their match against France in last year’s Championship, things were always going to be difficult starting on minus three points.
But two consecutive bonus point wins against Tonga and Canada have set up a thrilling pool decider on Saturday against Australia, with victory a must if Wales are to have a chance of topping the pool to earn a place in the semi finals, and Tipuric believes Wales have gone a long way to losing their underdog status.
“Since the start of the Six Nations we have been improving so much. We have had hard training sessions and grown stronger and stronger. I think we are at the peak at the right time in the tournament.
“I think both sides are evenly balanced and it is going to be a tight game. Australia have got a lot of experience and good individual players. But collectively I think we are better as a team. Rugby is a team game. So hopefully that will be an advantage for us.”
** Watch the climax of Pool C in Osaka live and on-demand for free on Saturday 13 June. First up will be Italy's encounter with Fiji at 13:00 local time, followed by South Africa's battle with France at 19:00 to determine who will travel to Tokyo to contest the semi finals. **
** You can also watch on-demand the Pool B matches (England v Japan and Samoa v Scotland) on 5 June, the Pool A matches (Uruguay v Argentina and Ireland v New Zealand) on 9 June, along with highlights of both matchdays. **