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NZ beat Ireland to seventh

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New Zealand cut their losses to secure seventh at the Under-20s Championship

New Zealand finally put an end to their dour run at the World Rugby Under-20s Championship by defeating Ireland 40-17 in the seventh-place play-off in Rosario. 

Defeat to South Africa without a losing bonus point denied the Kiwis qualification for the semi-finals and their campaign took a further turn for the worse last Monday when their one-point defeat to Wales meant the six-time champions would finish outside the top six for the first time in the 12-year history of the competition.

Their frustrations were unceremoniously taken out on Ireland, the Six Nations champions whose quest for glory at the championships was terminally dented by a pool loss to finalists Australia. 

New Zealand needed just five minutes to jump in front in their seventh-place final and they had streaked 26 unanswered points clear after just 21 minutes following tries from Etene Nanai-Seturo (two), Ollie Norris and Leicester Fainga’anuku. 

Ireland enjoyed the better of the remainder of the opening half, striking back with a try from Josh Wycherley, and they prospered some more in the second half with New Zealand’s Billy Procter in the sin-bin following a yellow card on the blow of half-time.    

Dylan Tierney-Martin and Ryan Baird were the scorers to cut the margin to just nine points (26-17). However, that was as close as the Irish got to making a fully successful comeback. A try from Tamaiti Williams on 65 minutes re-ignited New Zealand’s momentum and they closed out their win with another try by Shilo Klein six minutes later.

In the other early matches on the final day of the tournament in Argentina, Fiji consigned Scotland to relegation with their emphatic 59-34 win, England clinched fifth spot with their 45-26 success against Wales while South Africa clinched third spot, beating the hosts Argentina 41-16 in their positional play-off prior to the final between Australia and defending champions France.   

WATCH: Part one of The Academy, the six-part RugbyPassdocumentary series on how Leicester Tigers develop their young players

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New Zealand cut their losses to secure seventh at the Under-20s Championship