New Zealand kicked off their quest for a third successive IRB
Junior World Championship title with a 44-11 defeat of Fiji at the
Estadio CA Colon in Santa Fe on Saturday.
The Baby Blacks, who have beaten England in the two previous finals, wasted no time in getting points on the board, with fly half Hayden Parker kicking two penalties within the first five minutes.
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It was from this position the Baby Blacks steadily took control of the game, reverting to form to secure clean ball from set pieces while placing their backs in a strong attacking position.
New Zealand increased their lead to 20-0 with tries from wing Glen Robertson and prop Jeff Allen inside 25 minutes, but a resurgent Fiji, roared on by the crowd, began to play a more attacking style of play.
Fiji reaped the rewards when some good handling by the backs allowed wing Christopher Nasiganiyavi dotted down for what was to be their only try of the match against a country that has never lost a Junior World Championship match.
An excellent 50-metre penalty by fly half Josh Matavesi ensured Fiji went in trailing 20-8 at half, but that was as close as they were to get to the Baby Blacks in the match.
Rory Grice scored six minutes after the restart to extend the Baby Blacks' lead before Parker and Matavesi exchanged penalties. Flanker Sean Polwart and full back Tom Marshall crossed to bring up the bonus point as New Zealand shut down any Fijian attack with some resolute defence.
The try-scoring bonus point means New Zealand sit top of Pool A from Wales, who had to dig deep to overcome a spirited Samoan side 22-13 at Club Atletico Estudiantes in Parana in the match on day one.
POST MATCH REACTION:
New Zealand coach Dave Rennie:
"We're pretty happy in the end. Fiji were really solid
opponents. They defended very well and were dangerous with ball in
hand so we got a really good work out and I'm happy with the
effort the boys put on the park. We showed pretty good structure
and managed to create a bit of pressure and score points from that.
I think we've got a lot to do. It's good getting another
game under our belts and hopefully we can grow from there.
"We need to certainly defend better, our kick chase has got to be a lot better, and we're guilty of turning a bit of ball over in contact so we'll work harder to secure that and get support on that ball carrier quicker, that will be our main focus."
Fiji captain Severo Domoni:
"It was a bit rusty in the training session but you can't ask for more from the boys. They gave their blood and guts to the game and everyone involved - even the 24 that were involved - they helped the starting 15 in their preparation also with the coaches. So I am satisfied but I'm a bit disappointed because they are beatable even though they are ranked first we've got the talent in Fiji to beat them.
"Yes, when you are playing you can feel the atmosphere of the crowd I felt the crowd were more behind Fiji today than they were New Zealand like our coach said every time we got the ball the people were standing on their feet waiting for something to happen and we appreciate the crowd and it was a good turn out today."
Fiji coach Eroni Vereivalu:
"I am very satisfied with our display in the field, it's the number one team playing against the bottom team and I think the boys did a marvellous job out there. Although the score margin was big, on the field I really appreciate the boys and what they did.
"The crowd did enjoy the way Fijians displayed their style of rugby today. Every time the Fiji team got the ball you can see the crowd, they cheer them on and we love that and are very thankful that even though we are far from home we have supporters out here in Argentina to cheer us on."