JWC 2010: Finals Day Play-offs Review

(IRB.COM) Monday 21 June 2010
 
 JWC 2010: Finals Day Play-offs Review
Simon Zebo scores one of Ireland's seven tries against Scotland

The star attraction on the final day of the IRB Junior World Championship 2010 may be the title decider, but the battle for the remaining places from third to 12th will be intensely fought.

3RD PLACE PLAY-OFF - ENGLAND 22-27 SOUTH AFRICA


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South Africa matched their achievements in the two previous IRB Junior World Championships by finishing in third place with a 27-22 defeat of England at the Estadio El Coloso del Parque in Rosario on Monday.

The Baby Boks had seen their title aspirations ended in the semi finals by England in the two previous years, but having fallen to New Zealand at this stage in Argentina the South Africans were determined to finish third once more.

They enjoyed the perfect start when wing Nico Scheepers scored the opening try in the eighth minute, taking the inside pass from centre Francois Venter to coast over under the posts, giving Patrick Lambie an easy conversion.

England hit back within minutes, England Sevens star Christian Wade making the initial break before his fellow wing Marcus Watson was sent over the line by centre Jonny May with Freddie Burns adding the conversion to tie the scores at 7-7.

Burns, back in the starting line up after impressing off the bench in the semi final loss to Australia, missed a penalty but made amendments within minutes by touching down England's second try and then curling in the conversion from the touchline.

The lively Lambie, the tournament's leading point scorer, had a hand in South Africa's second try by sending Sibusiso Sithole in at the corner, but his side still went in trailing 19-12 after England prop Joe Marler burrowed over the line.

South Africa, though, came out of the changing rooms in determined mood and were rewarded instantly as Lambie combined replacement Sithole to score in the corner. South Africa took the lead just before the hour mark when Sithole touched down for his second try, Lambie adding the conversion to take the Baby Boks out to 24-19.

Rory Clegg did kick a penalty for England, but Lambie restored the five point lead with a little more than 10 minutes to play and despite their best efforts there was no way back for the 2008 and 2009 runners up, a good break by Tom Homer ultimately seeing Marler put a foot in touch to end the match.

POST MATCH REACTION

England coach Mark Mapletoft: "That was disappointing, we were pretty inaccurate in everything we did and to finish on what I thought was a poor performance in many areas was disappointing. Hopefully the players themselves will learn about that and take that into their senior careers back in their clubs, some are already senior players anyway, and today that learning experience taught them that you can't be inaccurate, certainly in the tackle which was abysmal at times and some of our choice in passing, options taken in attack. We had plenty of enough ball and possession to win the game. Yeah, it was not ideal but I feel for the players more than me."

England captain Jacob Rowan: "We were obviously disappointed not to be in the final but we wanted to really come out today and really show what we were about, perform our skills and we were unfortaunte not to do that. I think our accuracy let us down both in attack and defence, a lot of times we created chances we just didn't finish them and in defence in the first half and pretty much in the second half we need to be a lot more clinical."

South Africa coach Eric Sauls: "Very proud of the boys, I think we were a bit nervous and especially third time trying it now, although we lost two times consecutively this is the third time lucky. Under pressure that was my structure [to force England to make errors] and also to the boys to put more pressure on their first phase, scrums and line outs and get them on the back foot so that they made mistakes. It luckily worked for us. It is important that we realise that our boys, like I said, don't have the level where they can play higher up. England, for example, they play in the Six Nations, quite a build up for them to the World Cup, we are scattered. Guys are playing Varsity Cup and there's no Under 20 rugby so when we get to our camps it's the only time that we can get the team and start building momentum."

South Africa captain CJ Stander: "We came for first but the best we did today came third, I'm proud of the boys they did very well. First half we were behind by a try, we came into the cloakrooms and said 'just come back, keep the structures'. I think our fitness and our defence got us through the game, England couldn't score at the end and that's what won us the game.

5TH PLACE PLAY-OFF - ARGENTINA 23-37 FRANCE

A five-try haul helped France overcome a spirited Argentina 37-23 at the Estadio CA Colon in Santa Fe on Monday to finish fifth at the IRB Junior World Championship 2010.

The early stages of the match showed all the classic signs of an onslaught with France dominating much of the possession and revelling in throwing the ball out wide.

But Los Pumitas, showing little sign of fatigue following their epic extra time and kicking competition victory over Wales just four days earlier, did well to absorb the attack as France struggled to convert possession into points.

Argentina had an opportunity to open the scoring in both the second and 17th minutes however drop goal attempts by fly half Ignacio Rodriguez Muedra failed to splice the posts.

Just five minutes later teammate Santiago Mendez managed to rectify the situation when he nudged over a penalty, pushing Argentina 3-0 ahead.

France were quick to respond with a rolling maul giving way to a Kevin Gimeno try, with their strong tight five again coming to the fore late in the half when second row Romain Taofifenua dotted down to give his side a 12-3 lead.

Argentina were again first to score in the second half with a second Mendez penalty, but again a persistent French outfit again looked to their forwards to provide much needed fire power and a second try to Gimeno was the result.

France continued their resurgence with a try by captain Mickael Ivaldi in the 52nd minute and a penalty kick by fly half Jean Marc Doussain extending their lead.

Argentina struck back later in the half with Tomás de la Vega scooping up his own kick to dive across the line for the Los Pumitas' first try of the match.

Replacement flanker Eduardo López ensured the host side remained in the running with a try in the 69th minute. However a fifth try to France, courtesy of a piece of Brice Dulin magic, all but sealed Argentina's fate.

There was still time though for a consolation try for De la Vega to give Los Pumitas' loyal supporters in the stands cause for celebration with their highest ever finish in the Junior World Championship guaranteed.

7TH PLACE PLAY-OFF - WALES 39-15 FIJI

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Morgan Allen's brace in the second half ensured that Wales finished the IRB Junior World Championship 2010 on a positive note with a 39-15 victory over Fiji in their seventh place play-off at the Estadio CA Colon in Santa Fe on Monday.

Wales had gone in with only a slender 12-10 lead at half time thanks to the reliable boot of fly half Matthew Jarvis, who with his second penalty had become the third player to reach a century of points in the tournament's three year history.

Jarvis kept the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties before replacement Allen crossed for Wales' first try of the match to increase their advantage over the islanders to 25-10 after the conversion.

Fiji did cross for their second try of the match, Maritino Nemani making up for his earlier yellow card, but this proved to be their final score with Gareth Davies and Allen dotting down for Wales who finish one place lower than in the 2009 tournament in Japan.

Even with their second loss to Wales - having lost 31-3 in the pool stages - Fiji will still return home with their best ever finish in a Junior World Championship after previously finishing 14th in 2008 and 12th last year.

Fiji had actually enjoyed the dream start to the play-off as centre Navitalai Ratulevu touched down in the first minute at the Estadio CA Colon, full back Thomas Linde's conversion taking them out to a 7-0 lead.

However, almost immediately Fiji handed Matthew Jarvis the chance to put Wales on the scoreboard, the fly half making no mistake with his penalty kick. Linde and Jarvis then traded penalties.

Jarvis cut the Fijian advantage to a single point with another penalty in the 23rd minute after wing Maritino Nemani was sent to the sin bin by referee Jaco Peyper. Wales, though, were unable to capitalise on their man advantage and it was only Jarvis' penalty in the dying seconds that gave his side the lead for the first time.

POST MATCH REACTION

Wales coach Phil Davies: "Very pleased, a tough tournament for us but you know, we had three wins, one draw and a losing game against New Zealand so you know overall we're quite pleased with the tournament and pleased today because the players, it was tough after a long three and a half weeks, and we're very proud of the boys to win that match, very good.

"I think this is a superb tournament that the IRB put together and the standard of this tournament has gone up from last year and we're very pleased. We were ripe to have a fifth and sixth finish but seventh is okay and we will go back to Wales and try to do better next year."

Wales captain Dan Watchurst: "Inside the changing room we're obviously all very happy now, the tournament has finished and we came seventh. We felt deep down we could have done better really but obviously we've got to be happy with where we came now. It's been a great experience for all of us, obviously this part of our development is really important, playing the southern hemisphere sides but the more exposure we can get out there against the boys like that it's great for us."

Fiji coach Eroni Vereivalu: "First of all let me congratulate Phil Davies and his Wales boys for a job well done. This is the second match in which we've started very well playing in the first half but we lose out towards the end of the game. I think the problem with my Fijian players is the mental toughness, we've got to work on that, we give away the games right in the last 10 minutes of the game."

Fiji captain Severo Domoni: "We could have had them but we just made some silly mistakes, decisions. I think we could have got there, but it's all right, the game's over and everyone is happy. We are happy, going from the bottom 12 and now to eighth."

9TH PLACE PLAY-OFF - IRELAND 53-23 SCOTLAND

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A hat trick by Andrew Conway ensured Ireland finished ninth at the IRB Junior World Championship 2010 by overwhelming Scotland 53-23 at the Club Atletico Estudiantes in Paraná.

The Ireland full back took just 12 minutes to cross for his first try and by the time he touched down his second Ireland had established a 25-6 lead with Scotland's only response two penalties from the boot of Duncan Weir.

In between Conway's brace, fly half Noel Reid had touched down for Ireland's second try, having already got on the scoreboard with two penalties after Simon Zebo had kicked his side into a seventh minute lead.

Scotland did cut the deficit with Robert Harley's try around the half hour mark with Weir adding his third penalty of the day but Ireland were in determined mood to finish the tournament on a positive note.

In total, Ireland crossed for seven tries in the encounter against a side they had beaten 44-15 in this year's RBS Under 20 Six Nations and also 39-12 in the ninth place play-off in the 2008 Junior World Championship.

Wing Zebo crossed for Ireland's fourth try within minutes of the restart and there was no let up for Scotland with captain Niall Annett following suit shortly afterwards.

Scotland captain Stuart McInally did score another try for Scotland, but this was merely a catalyst for Conway to complete this hat-trick and scrum half John Cooney to touch down Ireland's final try of the tournament.

Ireland coach Allen Clarke: ""It''s top drawer from us, it shows the ambition of the group and the attitude of the group' has been there all along. I''ve said it before that the group we came out of was tough, we lost narrowly in three games and it was difficult to keep ourselves focused but all testament to the players there, they''ve been absolutely fantastic. I''m delighted for them because they''ve shown their true ability today.

""Argentina have hosted this tournament fantastically and it''s a tremendous credit to Argentina. I thoroughly, and I know the squad thoroughly, enjoyed their time here and the people of Argentina have been brilliant to us and you know the Championship has been the best I''ve been to so far.""

Ireland captain Niall Annett: ""Obviously to get a win is brilliant for us. We think there''s always aspects you can work on, but to finish here with that sort of scoreline is brilliant. We''re very happy for the lads, it wasn''t an easy tournament for us but at the end of the day we can be happy. "We started off poorly, we were very disappointed with our first series results, but we came back here with two wins and we reassessed our options and we''re happy now.""

Scotland coach Eamon John: "We're really disappointed in that performance today. We played in patches and Ireland took their chances and got away from us so we're bitterly disappointed today. "I think the tournament has been a really good learning curve for all the players, World Championships are. There will be some players that will come through and really benefit from this experience but others will have it in their memory bank forever and probably that will be where they are, but that''s the nature of World Cups at this level.""

Scotland player Robert Harley: ""It was a game of real ups and downs for us out there. When we played rugby we played some really, really good rugby and scored a couple of great tries, but I thought the Irish were really, really clinical when they got half breaks they ended up with a try almost every time and they were really dangerous against us."

11TH PLACE PLAY-OFF - SAMOA V TONGA

Tonga safeguarded their place in next year's IRB Junior World Championship by overcoming an enthusiastic Samoan side 23-3 in the 11th place play-off at the Club Atletico Estudiantes in Paraná.

With both sides desperate to snaffle their first win of the tournament, all the signs were there for an entertaining match that would see players pushed to their physical brink in the effort to avoid relegation to the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in 2011.

But in the end Tonga had too much heart for their fellow islanders, running in three tries to none and keeping the Samoan scoring limited to just one penalty right on the half time whistle.

Both sides had been quick to show their ambition to attack early on with the scoring opened at the 17th minute with a Tonga penalty, with Michael Toloke calmly slotting another between the posts eight minutes later to take his side out to 6-0.

Tonga dominated possession for much of the first half, taking advantage of some good runs through the openside to rattle the Samoan defence. Fly half James Naufahu, playing in just his third game of the tournament following two matches out injured, was instrumental in Tonga's efforts, combining with full back Salesi Piutau to drive deep into the Samoan half.

Their patience was finally rewarded in the 31st minute when wing Otulea Katoa crossed the line, extending Tonga's lead to 11-0. Ill discipline allowed Samoan fly half Karl Maleilegoal the chance to get his side's first and only points on the board with a penalty closing the gap to just eight points heading into the break.

The second half started with much the same intensity, although the quick fire pace led to a large number of handling errors from both Pacific island nations.

Tonga scored their second try 47 minutes in when a rolling maul advanced the ball several metres and replacement second row Sione Aho was able to dot down for his first try of the tournament.

Five minutes shy of the final whistle Piutau joined the fray, charging down the touchline to cross over for Tonga's third and final try. Scrum half Manu Soatame, who struggled during the earlier stages of the competition, finally finding a bit of form to nail the conversion.

Samoa's place in the next year's competition will be taken by Italy, the JWC 2011 hosts and winners of the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in Moscow last month.