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U20 World Championship: New Zealand edge Australia to top pool

The Junior All Blacks have beaten Australia 27-18 at Stade Aime-Giral, Perpignan on Friday morning in an entertaining Pool A World Championship battle.

Australia fought hard against their Trans-Tasman rivals coming within two points on two occasions, but New Zealand held out under pressure long enough to earn the win and top Pool A.

New Zealand will next play France in the semifinal, while Australia will play the in-form Italy in the battle for rankings on Wednesday.

The Kiwis opened the scoring early on through flyhalf Harry Plummer who sliced through the line to score and give New Zealand a 7-0 advantage.

The young men in gold struck back with a penalty through Isaac Lucas to reduce the gap to 7-3.

New Zealand struck again through Flanders to score their second try and take the scoreboard to 14-3.

Australia struck back with their first try of the match in the 28th minute with Fraser McReight crashing over the line after some excellent lead up play by the Aussies, bringing the score to 14-8.

The strength of Australia’s scrum continued to dominate New Zealand, leading to a penalty try just before the break to bring Australia to within two points, 17-15.

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New Zealand scored first in the second stanza with a penalty to Plummer, extending New Zealand’s lead to five points.

Australia countered quickly with a penalty of their own through Isaac Lucas to bring the difference to two points once again at 20-18.

Australia’s tireless defence continued to hold back New Zealand as the Junior All Blacks played within Australia’s half eventually allowing Jamie Spowart to score and extend the lead to 27-18.

A late surge by the Junior Wallabies was not enough to close the gap as Australia again asked questions of New Zealand’s scrum.

New Zealand held on and were able to claim the win and top Pool A. In the other match of the Pool Wales scrapped home against a strong Japanese side 18-17.

Junior Wallabies Captain Tate McDermott said: “I can’t fault the boy’s efforts, we put our heart and soul into that match tonight.

“We put a show on and really had a crack at New Zealand, but they were just too good.

“We needed to capitalise on their little defensive errors, we lost the match tonight but not doing that.

“We need to keep working on our defence, we leaked a few tries in the wide channels. We’ll build on what we started tonight, and we will turn some heads in this competition.”

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U20 World Championship: New Zealand edge Australia to top pool