New Zealand crowned JWC 2009 champions
By Rich Freeman
New Zealand ran in seven tries in an outstanding showcase of 15-man rugby to beat England 44-28 and win the IRB TOSHIBA Junior World Championship 2009.
The earlier heavy rain at Tokyo's Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium had stopped by the start of the final but conditions were still very slippery underfoot.
However, it didn't seem to upset the New Zealanders, whose all around team effort saw them retain the trophy they won last year - though they were made to work very hard by a determined England outfit that never gave up.
The tone of the match was set early on with the England forwards pushing the New Zealand pack backwards in the mauls, while the Kiwi backs looked very dangerous in broken play and two penalties by full back Tom Homer saw England take an early lead.
It could have been more, with Ben Youngs stripped of the ball by Robbie Robinson as the England scrum half slid over the line in the 11th minute.
Robinson proved to be even more of a thorn in England's side four minutes later when he finished off a good break by Winston Stanley, to go over for the opening try of the final. England responded in the best possible way just a minute later when James Gaskell dived over to make it 11-5 for his second of the tournament.
But it didn't take long though for New Zealand to make it a one-point match again. Stanley was again the creator, the centre's inch perfect kick meant Zac Guildford didn't have to break stride as he re-gathered and sprinted home from 40 metres out.
Captain and fly half Aaron Cruden missed the conversion but found the target in the 25th minute with a penalty as New Zealand went in front for the first time.
The score seemed to lift New Zealand and two tries in five minutes by Cruden - both following some great interchanges between forwards and backs - saw the Baby Blacks put 14 points between the teams.
Homer reduced that to 11 with another well struck penalty and the sides went into the break with New Zealand leading 25-14.
It only took three minutes of the second half for New Zealand to once again break the England defence when Cruden made a half break and then passed inside to Shaun Treeby, who went over under the posts.
Carl Fearns pulled a try back for England but tenacious New Zealand defence was always going to make it difficult to pull back another 11 points and Guildford's second try of the match in the 59th minute almost put the match out of reach for them.
Brayden Mitchell's five-pointer in the 72nd minute made it impossible and Dave Lewis' try two minutes from time was nothing more than a consolation effort.
POST MATCH REACTION
New Zealand head coach Dave Rennie: "We just needed to show a bit of composure. We reckoned if we kept it for three or four phases we could turn that pressure into points, and give credit to the boys, they did that."
"We had a lot of very good boys out there and everyone stood up today. They've [New Zealand forwards] gone from strength to strength and they went really well today. They gave us pretty decent ball and the backs used it well."
"I think you might see a handful of these boys running round in 2011."
New Zealand captain Aaron Cruden: "It's a fantastic feeling. We needed to stand up and be physical with that big England team and that's exactly what we did - we moved forward on defence and attack, and I'm just thoroughly proud of the boys."
"They (Winston Stanley and Zac Guildford) are the big name players in this team and they definitely stood up and led the boys round the track well."
"I don't know what they feed them in England, but they [the England forwards] are massive. We identified that they didn't send too many numbers to the breakdown so that was an area we could exploit them."
England head coach Mark Mapletoft: "I am very disappointed, as you would be to lose a final but we were beaten by the better team on the day. Very clinical in attack, very good at the breakdown, and as much as we hurt them in our driving play and scrum, it wasn't good enough, we gave them too many opportunities with our defending, both in terms of tackling and organisation which is disappointing.
"On the plus side, we stuck at it, and could have quite easily gone the same way as last year but we stayed much tighter and stuck to what we knew and, I suppose if it's any consolation, it was closer than last year. It gives us something to work on as a group next year."
England captain Calum Clark: "We are obviously very disappointed. We didn't feel the gap was that big, but we weren't good enough in our defence, forward players especially, we slipped off our tackles and they were just clinical when they broke the line and we had to work very hard to win back the tackle, which took its toll, and they were clinical and scored some easy tries but also some well earned tries. I can't have too many complaints but we are very disappointed."