Australia end IRB Junior World Championship on a high

by Staff Writer

The Australian U20s side has beaten France to claim Fifth Place honours at the IRB Junior World Championship in Auckland, following a second half comeback.

Australia ran in five tries to France’s three to secure a 34-27 win over the Junior Six Nations Champions.

Eden Park played host to an afternoon of milestones, with Australian winger Andrew Kellaway scoring two tries in the game, taking his tally for the tournament to 10, the most any one player has scored in a single IRB Junior World Championship.

Kellaway has now eclipsed the previous record of 8 set by former All Black, Zac Guildford and current New Zealand International, Julian Savea.

Throughout the tournament, the Australian U20s team has beaten Argentina, Italy, Samoa and now France, with only one loss to tournament finalists, England. Australia has won four games at the tournament on only one other occasion, back in 2008 when a side that included Quade Cooper and David Pocock made it to the final.

Australian Head Coach Adrian Thompson was pleased with the way his side performed in their last match of the tournament.

“We got off to a poor start but regained composure and started playing some promising Rugby towards the end of the first half,” Thompson said.

“The team had an impressive second period and we capitalised on some good phase play to get ourselves back into the game.

“Our players off the bench made a huge impact and I’m really proud of how the boys dug deep to finish off the tournament with a win.”

A shaky start from the Australians saw France score two early tries, however, the side regained its composure and eventually turned pressure into points.

Captain Sean McMahon got Australia on the front foot, breaking six tackles to score the team’s first try, and crossed for his second minutes later off the back of a rolling maul.

Jake McIntyre’s composure with the boot brought the score line to 17-14 in favour of the French, but a try against the run of play from Xavier Mignot saw Australia down by 14 points at the break.

After some solid attacking play by the Aussies, Andrew Kellaway got the try he was waiting for when he crossed over in the corner early in the second half.

France kept the scoreboard ticking in their favour with a drop goal through Brandon Fajardo but Australia responded with some brutal defence and counter-rucking at the breakdown.

Kellaway’s pace down the sideline saw him cross for another, bringing the score to 27-26, setting the tone for a pressure-cooker end to the second half.

Front-rower Harry Scoble ultimately guaranteed a fifth-place finish for Australia when he charged over the line to put the game out of reach for the French.

The 34-27 win against France caps off an impressive tournament for the Australian U20s side and their best outing at the IRB Junior World Championship in six years.

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