JWC 2010: Play-offs Preview

(IRB.COM) Sunday 20 June 2010
 JWC 2010: Play-offs Preview
Argentina will play France for the second time at JWC 2010

While Australia and New Zealand will do battle for the IRB Junior World Championship 2010 title, for the 10teams below them there remains much to play for as the race for final places ends on Monday.



Last year's beaten finalists England will face South Africa - the team they have beaten in the past two years to reach the final - at the Estadio El Coloso del Parque in Rosario to determine the tournament's prestigious bronze medal place.

Once again, England coach Mark Mapletoft has shuffled his pack and will lead his Under 20 charges for the final time, still striving for an elusive win on the last day of the Junior World Championship.

"This is a good chance for the whole squad to end the tour on a high. Personally I've never won a final game in three years that I've been involved with England Under 20s. It's a great opportunity for all of us involved to finish the tournament on a positive note."

His South Africa counterpart Eric Sauls has insisted his side have put their 36-7 semi final defeat to New Zealand behind them as they aim to finish third for the third successive year.

"It's about finishing this tournament on a high," said Sauls. "We've never ended lower than third, and it would be a disappointment for us to be the first South African side to come back from an Under 20 World Championship having achieved fourth position."

Sauls does have the tournament's leading points scorer to call upon with Patrick Lambie nine points ahead of the chasing pack on 63, with Baby Blacks captain and IRB Junior Player of the Year nominee Tyler Bleyendaal in pursuit.

Argentina's 16th man

Before the action gets underway in Rosario, the race for fifth to 12th places will be decided following early kick-offs in the matches played at Santa Fe and Parana.

Hosts Argentina will be guaranteed their best ever Junior World Championship finish when they run out at the Estadio CA Colon against a France (14.10 local time) side aiming to secure a second successive fifth place finish.

Los Pumitas coach Rolando Martin, who makes five changes to his team, admitted that the 'extra man' provided by the Santa Fe crowd ensured his team triumphed in the penalty kick competition against Wales in the previous round.

"I hope we can enjoy the same support during the match on Monday since it's something that will encourage the players," Martin said as his team strives to reverse the result of their Pool B game which saw France run out 31-23 winners.

Wales and Fiji open the proceedings in Santa Fe in an encounter which will determine seventh and eighth places kicking off at 12.00. Again, the two sides have already met in their pool, when Wales dominated with a 31-3 victory.

Wales must pick themselves up from their defeat to Argentina in the Junior World Champions's first ever penalty kick competition after the sides had been locked at 19-19 after sudden death extra time>

Relegation tussle

Coach Phil Davies rotating his squad again and welcoming back Ben John, Ashley Beck, James Loxton and Matthew Jarvis. Only full back Dan Fish and wing Kristian Phillips have started every game.

The Islanders make seven changes following their 44-9 defeat to France and are already guaranteed their best ever Junior World Championship finish after placing 14th in 2008 and 12th last year.

Fly half Josh Matavesi moves to scrum half - his third different position of the tournament - but will retain kicking duties while Meli Kurasaru takes the No.10 shirt. Iromi Dawai replaces Samuela Saqiwa at centre and Ratu Tevita Kurundrini and Martino Nemani complete the new look backline.

Club Atletico Estudiantes in Parana will host the match that no team wants to play as Samoa and Tonga fight for their Junior World Championship status with the loser relegated to the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in 2011.

Italy are poised to take the place of the losing Islanders, who kick off their must win match at 14.10 with neither having registered a win at this year's tournament in the Litoral region of Argentina.

Celtic pride

Tonga make four changes with Josh Fisi'iahi coming into the second row and Ofa Finau replacing the injured Sione Aho as flanker. James Naufahu will play fly half instead of Viliami Sa and Otulea Katoa is a tactical change on the wing, replacing Mata'ali Paea.

Samoa also make changes for the critical match, with a revamped forward line including hooker Gody Schuster, Sumalie Tuiletufuga on the wing and Sopoiafa Tikeri in at number 8.

The midday showdown sees Under 20 Six Nations rivals Ireland and Scotland battle for ninth place, the former having picked up their first tournament victory against Samoa in round four and the Scots beating Tonga for the second match day in a row.

Scotland coach Eamon John keeps an unchanged forward line for the match, but brings in Michael Tait and Callum MacBurnie on the wing.

"We know how Ireland play, they play all along the field but we want to play a game that hurts them and that helps us impose our game style and win the match. We have a chance to end the JWC with a victory over the Six Nations champions," said John.

Ireland coach Allen Clarke, who lost his inspirational captain Rhys Ruddock to the senior squad mid-way through the tournament, is urging his team to "play like professionals, as we have all through the tournament", knowing the key to victory is to "pay attention to our defensive game and take advantage of our attack".