Pool B: England through to JWC semi finals
By Rich Freeman
With the last round of pool matches finished, England now know they will face South Africa in the second semi final in Tokyo on Wednesday. Samoa, as Pool B runners up, will meet France in Fukuoka, while Scotland face Fiji in Osaka and Japan must travel to Nagoya to meet Italy.
FULL TIME: ENGLAND 52-7 SAMOA
England became the first team to book a semi final spot at the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship 2009 when they beat Samoa 52-7 at Tokyo’s Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.
Kicking off two hours earlier than the other three pool deciders on a sweltering hot, humid day that saw the teams take a water break midway through each half, last year’s runners up were simply too efficient and too clinical for the Pacific islanders.
Rayhan Laulala’s missed penalty kick in the 24th minute from in front of the posts seemed to sum up the Samoans’ day, nerves getting the better of them on the big occasion.
England, meanwhile, ran in five tries to ensure the match was wrapped up by half time, allowing them to ease off the gas in the second half.
Good lineout ball saw Henry Trinder open the scoring in the third minute, making the most of an incisive break by his centre partner Luke Eves to touch down.
With Rory Clegg’s boot making sure England had the advantage in the territory stakes, Trinder scored his second try just five minutes later as Samoa failed to deal with a chip ahead from England scrum half Ben Youngs.
Tom Homer failed with the conversion but was on target five minutes later with a penalty following a scrum that had seen the heavier Samoan pack going back at a rate of knots.
Homer increased England’s advantage to 18-0 in the 21st minute with another well struck penalty as his side came away from the Samoan half with points on the board again.
Trinder turned provider in the 26th minute, feeding George Lowe for England’s third try and, with Homer adding the extras, it was effectively game over at 25-0.
Carl Fearns made sure of the bonus point, touching down from a five-metre scrum as England shunted the Samoan pack backwards. Youngs then followed suit a minute before the break as England showed that technique means everything in the tight.
With the weather taking its toll and the match in the bag, England opted to open the second half with a shot at goal, despite a 39-point lead, and Clegg duly knocked the penalty over.
Auvasa Falealli ensured the big crowd finally had something to really cheer, touching down in the 49th minute, but it was nothing more than a consolation score.
Fearns scored a carbon copy of his first half try in the 60th minute and the England number 8 was followed onto the scoresheet by Charlie Sharples to bring up the half century.
England may have been convincing winners but the standing ovation given to the Samoans at the end of the match told which team the big crowd had supported.
England move into the semi finals for the second successive year and will play the winner of Pool C, be that South Africa or France. Samoa will fly to Fukuoka for the fifth to eighth placed play-offs, where they will meet the runners up in Pool C.
POST MATCH REACTION
England head coach Mark Mapletoft: “We are getting progressively better, we started well against Japan, but we knew we were nowhere near where we wanted to be. We stepped up against Scotland, to a slightly tougher opponent, not so much in terms of ability, but really in terms of rivalry between the two teams. And then we put fifty points past Samoa. This is really pleasing, gives us a lot of momentum, but our lads know that there is still loads to do and we are facing a much different task on Wednesday.”
England captain Calum Clark: “We are really pleased, especially the first half, I think in the second half we tailed off a little bit but probably due to the heat and these three games have taken their toll so far. But we are delighted with certain aspects of the game, scrum went really well, the lineout, and clinical at attacks, so this is a positive. We know we’ve got lots to work on and hopefully we’ll progress and perform better next time.”
“I still feel a little bit rusty, first games back always difficult, there’s been a lot of work put in by the conditioner with England and the physios here and back home, at Leeds. So I’ve got them to thank, really. I feel good and hopefully going to get better with each game.”
Samoa head coach Sogi Meleisea: “It’s been not a bad performance, but we did not have a good start, we made a lot of mistakes and it is hard to win them back. The team got tired, it is the third game of the competition, but there will be no excuse, every team is getting tired.”
Samoa captain Siaosi Otto Iona: “The hardest thing, they came out strong in the set pieces, especially their scrum. We learn a lot from today, we have to improve our set pieces, and get better. We have the feeling of sadness. We lost today, but we refocus on our other game, and the winner of that game takes all. We have to refocus on another position, this is why we are here, to improve our rank from seventh. We aim at sixth or fifth.”
FULL TIME: JAPAN 7-12 SCOTLAND
Scotland made sure they will remain in the top tier of world Under 20 rugby as they beat Japan 12-7 in the final match of Pool B at the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship.
The defeat means this year’s host will have to play regional qualifiers for the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in 2010, while Scotland will travel to next year’s Junior World Championship in Argentina.
Scotland had the majority of the possession in the first half at Tokyo’s Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, but they were up against a tenacious defence that never stopped tackling.
Both sides had chances early on to get on the scoreboard but Peter Horne’s penalty went wide and Japan wing Opeti Faeamani was tackled a metre short of the line.
As a result the sides stopped for the water break locked at 0-0 and it wasn’t until the 28th minute that the scoreboard started ticking over.
From a scrum five metres out, Scotland wing Grant Anderson showed some impressive strength to power over despite the attentions of three Japanese defenders.
Horne missed the conversion but he was on target seven minutes later. Stuart McInally then eluded the Japanese midfield and the number 8 passed onto Chris Fusaro, who touched down under the posts.
Nerves seemed to be getting the better of the Japanese team and their hard work of getting into the opposition 22 was wasted by poor handling.
Scotland, meanwhile, had done their home work and their ability to stop Japan's driving maul not only prevented the hosts getting on the scoreboard, it also succeeded in quietening the record 15,242 crowd – until the 52nd minute.
Having spent several minutes camped on the Scottish line, the Japanese forwards finally spread the ball wide to their backs.
A delayed pass from Harumichi Tatekawa created a hole in the Scottish defence and replacement Naoya Minamihashi dived over for the try, which was converted by Kenta Nakasone.
The try changed the composure of the match and it was suddenly the Scots who were showing more nerves with the last quarter being determined by fitness and which team weathered the humidity best.
In the end it was Scotland, but only just, and they now travel to Osaka for the ninth to 12th place playoffs, while Japan will try to restore some pride in Nagoya and better last year’s 15th place.
POST MATCH REACTION
Scotland Head Coach Rob Moffat: "We won the game. And apart from winning the game, we scored two tries in the first half, I thought we defended well, we had to kill the Japanese pressure especially the driving maul, that’s their game, I thought we defended that well. But all and all we need to play a lot better than that. We were really nervous today, so the next two games we want to play some really good rugby."
Scotland captain Fraser Brown: "I think, performance wise we were very poor, but the main thing for us was we won. We knew to expect the unexpected. We knew that they would kick to touch to the line out and try to drive us and they got very strong at the maul and tried to run the game a lot. We tried to catch their team unaware, and we were prepared for that and I think actually we defended it very well. But I think our attack was very poor."
Japan Head Coach Masahiro Kunda: "Scotland didn’t let us control the game, we wanted to stick to our game plan and strategy, but Scotland were very successful in stopping that. We had great crowds at all of our pool games, so we really wanted to win, so it is quite a disappointment."
"First game against Italy, we definitely want to win. We lost against Italy last year, so it is going to be a revenge game. We are going next year for the Junior World Trophy, but we also want for the rest of the tournament to expose our players to the international atmosphere. By winning those two games we would like to make the tournament still alive and exciting for Japan’s fans."
Japan captain Ryuhei Arita: "We couldn’t utilise the chances we had in the first half, this is why we lost. In the three pool games, we could see some improvement in the team, but it is all disappointment we couldn’t win any of these three games. As a captain, I wanted to win some games because this team will be dissolved after the tournament, so we wanted to leave some legacy. Our next aim is to show all of our strengths and what we practiced, in Nagoya."