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The Australian Under 20s have finished the pool stage of the IRB Junior World Championship with a resounding 46-12 win over Fiji at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, France, early this morning.
The result leaves the Australians with one win from three games, following losses to Ireland, 19-15, and New Zealand, 14-10.
The Australians will now face Argentina in one of two fifth-place semi-finals, with the other being contested between Ireland and France.
Australian Under-20 captain Curtis Browning was proud of his team’s resolve, following close losses to Ireland and New Zealand.
"It is good to come out with a bonus-point win, it is easy to drop off after two losses in a row, but it shows the mentality of the boys to come away with the win,” Browning said.
“The effort from the boys the whole tournament has been great, you can't fault that one bit. It was the same again tonight and they really worked hard as a whole eight and as a whole 15 and there was good impact off the bench.
“Everyone works hard for each other and you can't fault the effort of the boys and the pride they have in the jersey, so it is a good win.”
Australian Under-20 coach Adrian Thompson said the team will now concentrate its efforts on bettering last year’s final ranking of eighth.
"We finished eighth last year, so we want to do better,” Thompson said.
“It is an exciting pool, I think it is Ireland, France, ourselves and Argentina, so that is going to be a fantastic pool, great opposition and lots to look forward to.
"The only game we probably haven't played up to our expectations was the first one, against Ireland, but the Irish showed tonight they are obviously a very good team by coming so close to defeating New Zealand.
“We were excellent against New Zealand and were rewarded for our hard work tonight.”
The Australians were the first to score, taking an early 5-0 lead through a try to flyhalf Reece Hodge, but Fiji quickly struck back, turning the ball over on a kick chase and locking the scores at 5-5.
Australia scored a further three unanswered tries in the first half, through Browning, Brad Lacey and Mark Baldwin. Hodge added two conversions to take the score to 24-5 at half time.
The Australians opened the scoring again in the second half through Alex Northam, but again Fiji struck back, closing the gap to 29-12.
From there, the Australians controlled the match, with tries to Silatolu Latu and Luke Burton rounding out the score. Burton added two conversions in the second half.
Prior to the match the Australians were forced to make a late injury change to their bench, with Ofiu Manukeu-Archibald taking the place of injured flanker Jack Dempsey.
The Australian Under 20s face Argentina in their fifth-place semi-final on Wednesday 19 June at 3:00am (AEST).
All games of the IRB Junior World Championship are streamed live at www.irb.com.
Australia 46 – Fiji 12
Australia tries – Reece Hodge, Curtis Browning, Brad Lacey, Mark Baldwin, Alex Northam, Silatolu Latu, Luke Burton.
Conversions – Hodge (2), Burton (2).
Penalty goal - Hodge.
Australian Under-20 IRB Junior World Championship Results
6 June, 2:45am (AEST)
V Ireland (L 19-15)
Stade de la Rabine in Vannes
10 June, 4:45am (AEST)
V New Zealand (L 14-10)
14 June, 4:45am (AEST)
V Fiji (W 46-12)
Australian Under 20s v Fiji
Click to view Australian Under-20 bios online
Curtis Browning (c)
University of Queensland
University RC WA
GPS Old Boys
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