Pool D: Australia and Tonga finish in style
By Tom Chick
With the pool stages now concluded, Australia have finished top and as such will travel to Tokyo to face New Zealand in the semi finals. The next matchday on Wednesday will see Wales meet Six Nations rivals Ireland in Fukuoka, third placed Tonga tackle Argentina in Osaka and Canada face Uruguay in Nagoya.
FULL TIME: AUSTRALIA 38-5 WALES
Australia will face defending champions New Zealand in the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship 2009 semi finals after a clinical display of attacking rugby secured a 38-5 victory at the Best Amenity Stadium in Saga to end the title hopes of Wales.
Wales, semi finalists in the inaugural tournament on home soil last year, found not only the speed and running lines of an Australian squad brimming with Super 14 talent, but also the power of their pack both in the scrum and in open play.
A crowd of nearly 4,000 had turned up to watch the Pool D decider, one Wales went into knowing that victory was a must if a semi final place was to become a reality. However, the Australian performance meant that Wales had few chances to score against a defence that had not conceded a try in two matches.
Richard Kingi had scored a Junior World Championship record 26 points – including a record-equalling four tries – in Australia’s opening victory over Canada and it was the scrum half who got the scoreboard ticking over against the Welsh with a sixth minute penalty.
Welsh fly half Matthew Jarvis missed with a difficult long range penalty that would have levelled the scores and instead it was Australia who doubled their advantage when Wales handled in the ruck after a great break from Kingi, the scrum half kicking his second penalty.
Two more penalties from the boot of Australian Sevens player Kingi put his side 12-0 up after 25 minutes with Wales struggling to get out of their own half and very little ball to work with. Jarvis had a chance to get Wales on the scoreboard, but missed with another long range penalty.
Australia by now had lost full back Kurtley Beale – who like Kingi had crossed four times against Canada – to injury, but it did not diminish their attacking threat with his replacement Clinton Sills – who joined the squad this week after Rob Horne returned home injured – a more than able replacement.
Wales finally managed to spend some time in Australia’s half as the interval approached and worked themselves into the 22 with some pick and goes, but the pass to their unmarked wing was forward and their opponent’s line remained intact with the half time score 12-0.
This missed opportunity proved costly when prop Albert Anae touched down within two minutes of the restart to stretch Australia’s advantage to 17 points with Kingi missing the conversion. Ten minutes later another chance for Wales to get on the scoreboard went astray with Jarvis missing a third penalty attempt.
Kingi had a hand in Australia’s second try, the scrum half sniping away and passing inside to the supporting wing Rodney Davies, who chipped over the defence and then gathered to score under the posts and make the conversion a simple kick for Kingi.
Davies claimed his second and Australia’s third try with 10 minutes remaining, the fourth seeds attacking off a scrum in their own 22 with fly half Matt To’omua making the break before the ball went wide for the wing to touch down in the corner to stretch the lead to 31-0.
Their place in the semi finals long since assured, a rare Australian knock on led to a try for Wales – the first conceded by Australia in the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship – with the ball kicked ahead and then hacked on again by for replacement Rhys Downes to ground the ball just before it went dead.
There was still time, though, for Australia to fittingly have the final say. A great incisive run by Sills set up the opportunity, the ball being worked out wide to the right and following three pick and goes it was left to second row Rob Simmons to touch down.
Australia will now head to Tokyo on Sunday for the semi finals, already guaranteed to better their fifth place finish in 2008, while Wales will remain in Fukuoka to await the other second placed teams with Six Nations runners up Ireland their next opponents at the Level 5 Stadium on Wednesday.
VIEW THE AUSTRALIA V WALES MATCH DETAILS >>
POST MATCH REACTION
Australia head coach David Nucifora: “We’re obviously really excited to put that scoreline on a good team like Wales. We put scoreboard pressure on them and then were able to convert that pressure to tries so it was a very good effort. We’re pleased with aspects of our play throughout the pool games. Our game has improved, we stepped up quite a bit in a number of facets. We have got better each time we have played. We are looking forward to playing the Kiwis in Tokyo.”
Australia captain Damien Fitzpatrick: “We are very pleased with the win and keeping Wales down to five points. The boys are very excited to go to Tokyo. We know it will get harder but it’s a good platform for us to work on.”
Wales head coach Phil Davies: “Congratulations to the Australians. They played well but I’m very proud of our team. We did a lot of things correctly but Australia capitalised on our mistakes which is the mark of a good side. It has been a good pool stage, we have won two out of three which keeps us in the top eight for Argentina. We look forward to the knockout stages, and want to finish as high as we can.”
Wales squad captain Scott Andrews: “Congratulations to the Australians. They are a quality team and they scored a lot from our mistakes. They were the better team on the day.”
FULL TIME: CANADA 20-36 TONGA
Tonga finished the pool stages on a high with their first victory of the tournament, running in six tries to beat Canada 36-20 at the Best Amenity Stadium in Saga to guarantee themselves a top 12 finish and a spot in next year's IRB Junior World Championship in Argentina.
Both sides knew the significance of the Pool D encounter and while Canada enjoyed some early possession and territory, they were left to rue a penalty miss by captain Harry Jones when Tonga claimed the opening try.
Sione Finau was the player to score it, the scrum half picking the ball up from a ruck 40 metres out, slipping past his opposite number Kyle Armstrong and then beating full back Jones to touch down in the seventh minute.
The conversion was missed and in the 15th minute Jones started the move which led to his side’s first score, fielding a restart near his 10-metre line and testing Tonga with an up and under. The islanders failed to deal with it and the bounce favoured Canada with number 8 Brett Beukeboom gathering to cross the line unopposed.
With the scores locked at 5-5, Jones missed another penalty attempt, this time from in front of the posts, and within a minute Tonga made them pay by scoring their second try of this must-win match through second row Liaki Moli.
Tonga stretched their advantage to 17-5 on the half hour mark, forcing a turnover on halfway before a great reverse pass from Willis Halaholo allowed wing Sione Lafo’ou to score under the posts.
Canada did reduce the deficit to 17-8 at half time with a Connor Braid penalty, but having enjoyed more possession and territory and been better organised than their opponents they would have expected to go have gone in ahead.
The Tongans had looked dangerous throughout the first half and the first 11 minutes after the break all but wrapped up the match, Johnnie Morath-Hansen making up for missing a penalty by scoring their third try.
The bonus point try came within minutes when prop Sione Mulikiha'amea touched down, Kolio Hifo's conversion taking Tonga out to 31-8 and meaning that Canada needed a quick response if they were to have a chance of a comeback victory.
They duly got it with outside centre Conor Trainer making a break before the Canadian forwards linked up and the ball found its way out to wing Aaron Johnstone in the 16th minute.
A long period of possession, when it seemed virtually every Canadian player had touched the ball, led to another try. Replacement wing Will Philippson stepping inside to score under the posts with Connor Braid's conversion making it 31-20 with 10 minutes to go.
However that would be as near as Canada got to an amazing comeback despite throwing everything they had at a Tongan side playing with a man in the sin-bin, a turnover on halfway resulting in Lafo'ou's try two minutes from time.
The crowd had been treated to an entertaining match and a Sevens style of play from the Tongans, who now travel to Osaka to face the third placed side in Pool A in the playoffs for ninth to 12th. Canada will travel to Nagoya to face Uruguay.
POST MATCH REACTION
Tonga head coach John Edwards: “I knew we’d take this game if we cut down our mistakes and sorted out our set pieces. We had to work on the scrum and the basics. I’m very happy with today’s game. This is my first time at the Junior World Championship and I didn’t realise the high standard here.”
Tonga captain Halaleva Fifita: “We tried our best and the scrum and lineout went better. I’m very happy today.”
Canada head coach Tim Murdy: “Congratulations to Tonga. Our boys didn’t come away with enough points in the first half and we couldn’t chase the game in the second half. Our boys are disappointed as they should be. We can’t worry about next year, we have to concentrate on our next game.”
Canada captain Harry Jones: “We are disappointed with the loss, but we didn’t play our best today.”