Pool A: Key wins for New Zealand and Ireland
By Oscar Jimenez
With the pool stages now complete, defending champions New Zealand will face Australia in the first semi final in Tokyo on Wednesday. Ireland as Pool A runners up, will meet Wales in Fukuoka, while Argentina tackle Tonga in Osaka and Uruguay remain in Nagoya to face Canada.
FULL TIME: ARGENTINA 9-48 NEW ZEALAND
Defending champions New Zealand overturned a three-point deficit at half time to beat Argentina 48-9 and confirm their place in the semi finals of the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship 2009 as the Pool A winners.
Whatever head coach Dave Rennie said to his side during the break clearly had the desired effect with the Baby Blacks running in seven tries to ensure the final score had a convincing look to it.
Argentina, buoyed by their victory over fellow South Americans Uruguay on Tuesday, started the strongest in the decider at the Mizuho Rugby Ground in Nagoya on Saturday.
More than 7,000 people watched on as Argentina made their intentions known from the kick-off with Tomas Rosati attempting a drop goal in the opening minute.
Although it was unsuccessful, the Pumitas continued to have possession in their opponent’s 22 and, after 11 minutes, were rewarded a penalty which fly half Rosati converted – the first points New Zealand had conceded in this year’s Championship.
Four minutes later Argentina attempted another drop goal, this time it was Joaquin Lucchetti who failed to send the ball flying through the posts.
However in the 23rd minute Lucchetti was successful with an impressive drop goal attempt to give Argentina a 6-0 lead – something New Zealand clearly didn’t have in mind having beaten the Pumitas 60-0 at the same stage last year.
The scoreline upset New Zealand’s rhythm and they were put under more pressure by Argentina. On the half hour mark Rob Robinson missed his team’s first chance to put points on the board with a penalty and this could have been punished as Argentina’s forwards created another platform for a drop goal opportunity. This time, however, full back Joaquin Tuculet missed the posts.
Robinson finally got New Zealand on the board with a penalty moments before half time to make the score 6-3. Tuculet was then sent to the sin bin to mean New Zealand would play against 14 men for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Rennie introduced scrum half Frae Wilson and wing Zac Guildford at half time, and the replacements both had an immediate impact. Firstly Wilson crossed within a minute of the restart, before Guildford showed his speed to cross shortly after. Robinson converted one of these tries to make the score 15-6.
Unfortunately for Argentina their hard work in the first half appeared to have sapped a lot of their energy and Nafi Tuitavake, the brother of All Black Anthony, scored a 12-minute hat-trick, the second of his tries securing New Zealand’s bonus point.
Joaquin Diaz Bonilla kicked a penalty in between the centre’s second and third tries, but with replacement Codey Rei converting two of Tuitavake’s three tries, the score went out to 34-9.
Rei would also convert New Zealand’s last two tries from flanker Berny Hall and replacement Elliot Dixon to make the final score 48-9, meaning New Zealand are the only team not to have conceded a try in this year’s Championship.
Table toppers New Zealand will now travel to Tokyo to meet trans-Tasman rivals Australia in the semi finals, while Argentina’s defeat – and Ireland’s victory over Uruguay – leaves them third and facing a meeting with Tonga in Osaka.
POST MATCH REACTION
New Zealand Head Coach: "We expected Argentina to be a difficult opponent to get through and they certainly showed that in the first half. They were powerful up front and they applied a lot of pressure to us. We didn’t react as well as we would have liked and as well we trained, but the boys showed a fair bit of character in the second half. We were able to increase the pace of the game and apply a bit of pressure so it was pleasing to turn pressure into points."
"Argentina have as good a scrum as anyone in this tournament and they are renowned for it. It took us a while for us to get a bit of an edge there, but by the end of the game we had a competitive scrum and I am happy from that point of view, but still a lot of work to do with our set piece."
"The goal was to get to Tokyo. We have a very tough opponent in Australia, so for us to win that game we need to put the effort in for 80 minutes as opposed to the second 40."
FULL TIME: IRELAND 45-0 URUGUAY
Ireland returned to winning ways with a hard fought 45-0 bonus point win over Uruguay in the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship 2009 at the Mizuho Rugby Ground in Nagoya.
On an extremely humid day more than 5,000 spectators witnessed seven Irish tries, including two from full back Dave Kearney, who made a telling contribution with his powerful running, and wing Jonny Sheils.
Ireland had the chance to take the lead after only five minutes, but scrum half Conor Murray failed with the penalty attempt. They continued to have the majority of possession and territory, but Uruguay frustrated them.
However, after 22 minutes, Shiels scored his first try with Murray adding the conversion. Kearney then doubled the Irish try count as his side started to find gaps in Uruguay's defence. This time the conversion was unsuccessful, although this would be the last time Murray would miss all afternoon.
Four minutes later Shiels scored his second try, which Murray converted to take the teams into half time with Ireland leading 19-0.
The second half continued as the first had ended, with Kearney showing his offensive ability and crossing for his second try to give Ireland the bonus point, with Murray adding the extras.
Tries from Andrew Burke, David McGregor and replacement Michael Keating - all of them converted by Murray to give him 10 points in the match - completed the scoring as Ireland recorded a comfortable victory.
Despite the scoreline, Ireland were made to work extremely hard especially in the heat, and they will have to await the result of the Pool A decider between New Zealand and Argentina to learn their destination for the play-offs.
Uruguay will remain in Nagoya, where they will play Canada on Wednesday in the 13th to 15th place play-offs.
POST MATCH REACTION
Ireland coach Allen Clarke: “We’re very pleased with aspects of our game. We created a lot of opportunities and we were able to convert a number of tries. 45-0 scoreline certainly didn’t flatter us. We left a number of points out there.
“Having said that, the conditions were difficult. Our work rate was high and our defence was exceptional again.”
Uruguay captain Federico Perez Pirotto: “I don’t feel satisfied and neither does the team, I think. If we had gone out and done what we said and lost, then fair enough, but I don’t think we gave ourselves that chance.
“We had opportunities, but we couldn’t take them. As the coach said, we lacked ideas when we got into good areas on the pitch.”
Uruguay head coach Bruno Grunwaldt: “It was a very hard game, as were the games we played before. Ireland played well. We played well in the last 25 minutes with the ball in their half, but we didn’t have the ideas to gain points from this.”
“We did have a chance to score before they scored, but we didn’t take it and that turned out very bad for us.”