The IRB Junior World Championship 2010 final will be between
defending champions New Zealand and Australia after the
Trans-Tasman rivals overcame South Africa 36-7 and England 28-16 in
their respective semi finals.
AUSTRALIA v ENGLAND
A great solo try from Kimami Sitauti took Australia into their first ever IRB Junior World Championship final with a 28-16 defeat of England at the Estadio El Coloso del Parque in Rosario on Thursday.
Australia, the youngest squad in the 2010 tournament in Argentina, were already leading 23-11 when the Sevens star backed himself to score, realising his outside backs had overrun the ball and stepping back inside to ensure the celebrations could begin.
That Matt Toomua missed the conversion did not matter one bit to the Australians with only a couple of minutes remaining, and while half-time replacement Jonny May later powered over for an England try it was nothing more than a consolation score.
Australia had not been as clinical as in their enthralling Pool C decider with South Africa four days ago and the problems they had in the lineouts will cause concern, but their free-flowing style still ended England's hopes of a third succesive final.
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Australia started positively and were unlucky not to score in the opening minute after a jinking run from Robbie Coleman, the Sevens star gliding through the defence only to slip as he stepped off his left foot with the line only metres away.
Matt Toomua did kick Australia into the lead with a fourth minute penalty, reward for spending the game to that point in the England 22. However, England hit back five minutes later when Sam Smith got outside his marker on the overlap to cost over to give his side a 5-3 lead.
Australia's willingness to throw the ball around was evident and Coleman was at the heart of a flowing move again in the 16th minute, attracting two defenders to him before offloading to Aidan Toua to score his fourth try of the tournament.
Tom Homer, the leading point scorer in Junior World Championship history, cut the deficit to 10-8 with a penalty before within seconds Toomua uncharacteristically pulled a kick off his own just inches wide of the upright.
Toomua made amends in the 34th minute when he combined with Luke Morahan for Australia's second try, the full back cutting the perfect angle to slice through the England defence, take the pass from his fellow Wallaby tourist and stretching over the line.
Australia looked to have wasted a chance to increase their advantage to 20-8 at half time when Nicholas White took a quick tap, thinking he could get over the line only to be hauled down. Fortunately for him they were awarded another penalty and Toomua made no mistake.
England coach Mark Mapletoft rung the changes at the start of the second half, including bringing on prop Lee Imiolek to stabilise the scrum, as he sought to change their fortunes and unsettle the free-running Australians.
Australia, though, still spent much of the opening quarter of the second half camped in their opponent's half and it needed some resolute defence from the two-time finalists to keep their try-line intact for the third time at the Estadio El Coloso del Parque.
Freddie Burns, somewhat unlucky to have started on the bench, nearly had a similar impact as a replacement as he did against Ireland in the pool stages, a neat chip catching Australia with no sweeper only for Kimami Sitauti to beat him to the touch.
Homer cut the deficit to 20-11 just before the hour mark, but Toomua's penalty 10 minutes from time left England needing two converted tries to take the lead. They were unable to cross until it was too late following Sitauti's individual try.
POST MATCH REACTION
Australia coach David Nucifora: "We're really pleased to make it through to the final and we've at least now given ourselves an opportunity to win it and that's all we came here for. There's a lot of talent in the team, we probably felt we didn't play as well today as we should've to be honest and we know if we're going to beat South Africa or New Zealand in the final we're going to have to play significantly better than what we felt we played today.
"I think the South African game took a lot out of us and I didn't feel that we were quite as sharp as we should have been today. There were scenarios that were presented to us out there that if we were right on top of our game I felt we could have taken them and we didn't today. But we did enough, enough to get past a good England team so we're happy with the result."
Australia captain Jake Schatz: "I'm very proud of the boys. It was a good effort to come out here today and give it to the Poms, just hopefully we can continue to carry it on. I think the way they seemed to slow our ball down a bit got us playing a bit of a different game but at the end of the day when we held onto the ball and created phases, it created opportunities."
England coach Mark Mapletoft: "I think previously we've been the better team in the semi final and today clearly we weren't the better team and the better team won. We've got to accept that and re-gather and move on and wait for the third v fourth play-off on Monday.
"They've done really well, it was an incredibly hard pool and it was a big achievement getting out of the pool with everybody fit and raring to go, but I think Australia proved today that they're very, very comfortable with ball in hand and we couldn't deal with that for the 80 minutes and you lose on the scoreboard. I thought it was a lot of endeavour, couldn't fault it, the commitment was super, you know, sticking in there defensively and then scoring a try at the end but it was a very fair reflection on the game."
England captain Jacob Rowan: "Australia were a very good outfit and the tempo they played at was outstanding. We just couldn't come up with it at the end of the day. We focused against the final but I still don't think it will be hard to get up for this game [for third place] now. It's a massive game with two great sides we could play, we're not sure yet, so we'll obviously have to get up for that game, look at the game and how we've gone and improve on it."
NEW ZEALAND v SOUTH AFRICA
New Zealand's quest for a third successive IRB Junior World Championship title remains on course after they ran out comfortable 36-7 winners over South Africa in the second semi final at the Estadio El Coloso del Parque in Rosario on Sunday.
The 14th consecutive win for New Zealand in the Junior World Championship was never really in doubt after ending the first half ended with the Baby Blacks leading 22-0, having made the most of their advantage of playing with the wind behind them.
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Patrick Lambie, the leading point scorer in the 2010 tournament with 61 points, missed an early penalty attempt for South Africa and Julian Savea made that prove costly within minutes, the wing handing off Branco du Preez before diving to ensure he remained in touch to score the first try.
New Zealand captain Tyler Bleyendaal missed the conversion from the touchline, but having seen Elton Jantjies pull a drop goal attempt well wide, the fly half made no mistake with his next effort to make it 8-0 after 20 minutes.
Lambie missed a second penalty and again within minutes New Zealand made the Baby Boks pay, Tawera Kerr-Barlow taking a quick tap to Bleyendaal, whose long pass gave second row Blade Thomson an easy run in for the second try of the match.
A third try followed just past the half hour mark, number 8 Rory Grice capitalising on the space that opened in front of him after prop Marcel van der Merwe failed to tackle him to charge over, handing off two Baby Boks in the process.
South Africa had struggled to handle the Baby Blacks from the first whistle, but were also guilty of wasting several opportunities with handling errors. However, they finally got on the board in the dying minutes with a try from Du Preez, the smallest player in the 2010 tournament.
The Baby Boks, who have suffered semi final heartbreak in the two previous Junior World Championships, may have had the wind in their favour in the second half but they were unable to find a way through be it because of handling errors or the resolute New Zealand defence.
Instead it was Bleyendaal who kept the scoreboard ticking over with four penalties, making the Baby Boks pay for their high penalty count, before Savea scored his eighth try of the tournament 10 minutes from time, carrying defenders over the line and again showing great special awareness to dot down before going into touch.
Savea, who had been a doubt in the days leading up the match with the knock he suffered to his hip against Wales, has now matched the eight tries Zac Guildford scored in the 2009 tournament and seems set to follow him into the All Black fold before too long.
POST MATCH REACTION
New Zealand coach Dave Rennie: "I'm really happy for the boys. They've put in a lot of hard work and it'll be nice to have a bit of a look against Australia in four days time. We always felt if we could hang onto the ball we could put a lot of pressure onto South Africa, but we weren't clinical enough at times. The first 10 was pretty patchy and the next sort of 25 was pretty good but probably for the rest of the game we didn't put the foot on the throat and it was only some scrambling defence that kept them out.
"Julian Savea draws a fair bit of attention but we probably didn't get him enough ball and that was a bit frustrating. I think we've got to be mentally tougher, we got off to a good lead and we should have really put them away but we let them hang in there and they scored right on half time which would have given them a bit of hope going into the second half so that's something we've got to focus on. We were a bit better in keeping possession but we've got to be a lot better against Australia."
New Zealand captain Tyler Bleyendaal: "It is very exciting, real proud of the boys today, it was a great effort. It was definitely a battlefield out there as you probably could see in the last three minutes or so when everyone was on the ground. I am just really excited and the final, it is a great achievement to make it and it is just going to be a great event."
South Africa coach Eric Sauls: "We are bitterly disappointed with the defeat. Compliments to New Zealand. They are the only undefeated team in the history of the tournament and that experience showed today. They were more clinical than us and they used their opportunities whenever they were on attack.
"We were also guilty of making too many mistakes early in the game. Looking back, we were always chasing the game and the Baby Blacks fed off many of our mistakes. They scored three tries early in the first half and that made things a bit difficult for us."
South AFrica captain CJ Stander: "It was a hard game, a few mistakes here and there. New Zealand did great and I must congratulate them on their game, they did very well. I think both teams were great, they just scored on our mistakes. We conceded points and they're a very disciplined team as well and at the end they scored the most points. For the first 20 minutes they scored a lot of points, I think 15, that gave them a head start and it was hard for us to get back in the game."