Italy are game but no match for the mighty Baby Blacks after Matthew Morgan steers Wales to an impressive win over Argentina in the earlier Pool A match.
NEW ZEALAND 64-7 ITALY
Italy battled gamely and were rewarded with a deserved try but were unable to stop the defending champions marching to yet another commanding victory.
New Zealand took the lead in the third minute when full back Charles Piutau claimed the honour of scoring the Baby Blacks’ 100th try in JWC history.
A penalty from fly half Gareth Anscombe and two converted tries, from wing Mitchell Scott and Piutau again, stretched the lead.
Italy were unlucky to lose the ball just a step away from the try line, allowing a great counter-attack by second row Steven Luatua, who sprinted almost the length of the field to score a fourth try inside the first half-hour.
Another try from wing Francis Saili sent New Zealand in at half time leading 36-0.
The hosts came out for the second half in determined mood and were soon celebrating with their ecstatic fans in the sell-out crowd when wing Michele Visentin crossed for a try he will remember for the rest of his life.
New Zealand prop Gregory Pleasants-Tate received a yellow card for a high tackle and his teammates gave away a series of penalties as the emboldened Italians took the game right up to their feted opponents.
But despite an aggressive defence, the gulf in class was never going to be bridged.
Tries from Anscombe, inside centre Lima Sopoaga, and replacements TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett completed New Zealand’s victory.
The three-time tournament winners remain unbeaten in 16 JWC matches now, stretching back to the inaugural tournament in Wales in 2008.
Italy, roared on by an exuberant home crowd in Treviso, were far from disgraced against a team of vast physical and technical superiority, and will go into their next match, against Argentina at the Stadio Mario Battaglini in Rovigo on Tuesday, with renewed confidence.
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POST MATCH REACTION
New Zealand captain Luke Whitelock: "Some good parts to our game, we scored some good tries, but a lot ot work on, a lot of unforced errors, we were a bit rusty. But credit to Italy they played well, put plenty of heart and soul into their game and they never gave up."
New Zealand fly half Gareth Anscombe: "It was good to get one under the belt and something now to look forward to with Wales. It was a great atmosphere, it was good to get the win and a few challenges for next week and we can learn a lot from this."
ARGENTINA 8-34 WALES
Matthew Morgan inspired Wales to a 34-8 victory over Argentina in their opening match of the IRB Junior World Championship 2011, the fly half pulling the strings and scoring 19 points, including a first half try, at the Stadio Plebiscito in Padova.
Morgan opened the scoring in only the third minute with a penalty and then created the try for himself, running an angle that allowed him to slice through the Argentinean defence with ease and coast round under the posts.
Argentina’s defence simply had no answer to the Ospreys No.10, who very nearly fashioned a second try for Wales in the 21st minute only for his one-handed pass around the last defender to be adjudged forward by referee John Lacey.
The diminutive fly half showed his finesse again with the boot minutes later when he curled in a conversion from the touchline after Wales took advantage of a strong scrum to quickly provide wing Liam Williams the space to touch down.
Trailing 17-0 Argentina began to build some phases with hooker Lucas Sartori at the heart of everything. The pressure on the Welsh line eventually told, scrum half Marcos Bollini reacting quickest to grab the ball from the breakdown and dive over the line.
Captain Brian Ormson could not curl the conversion between the uprights and Argentina went in trailing 17-5 at the break, still in touch but knowing that they had to stifle Morgan’s magic touch if they were to have any chance of victory.
In their attempts to push forward though they left themselves open, prop Rhodri Jones charging forward before Morgan kicked ahead deftly for Eli Walker to win the chase to touch down Wales’ third try of the evening.
Argentina did cut the deficit slightly with a penalty by Ormson but there was to be no way back, Wales injecting some fresh legs in the action and getting the reward when some quick ball created an overlap for Williams to glide over for his second try.
Wales now face the challenge of New Zealand on Tuesday and will hope to become the first to ever beat the Baby Blacks in this key Age Grade tournament. Argentina, meanwhile, will look to bounce back against hosts Italy.
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POST MATCH REACTION
Wales coach Richard Webster: “We are very happy with the performance and happy with the result. I think our defence held up very well, we gave them one sloppy try. They didn’t cross the gainline too much and they didn’t really look like scoring. The defence was massive for us and then when we played the patterns and play as we want we open up the spaces and Matthew Morgan at 10 does his magic and we score tries.”
Argentina captain Brian Ormson: "We were very convinced that we could win it, but I think Wales played a great match, they are a tough team, we know what Wales means for International rugby. The first match is very difficult for us, our rugby is increasing but we need more competition. I think the result does not show what happened on the field, there was more fight in the game, but they made the most of opportunities we gave them and scored tries.”