Australia U20s steal first ever win over New Zealand

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

An 82nd minute Mack Mason penalty has handed Australia its first ever win over New Zealand at U20s level, in a 25-24 thriller.

Australia lead for 70 minutes of the match before an intercept try to New Zealand winger Jonah Lowe and the ensuing Jordie Barrett conversion put them ahead for the first time.

All hope looked lost for the Aussies but they continued to press on the New Zealand line, looking initially for a field goal opportunity.

It took almost two minutes after full-time for the home side to win a penalty, with Mason taking no time to point to the sticks and snatch the game for Australia.

Two first-half tries gave Australia a massive 17-3 lead at the break, as they showed the same attacking intent of the opening match, but added a touch of execution.

It took less than four minutes for Australia to get on the board, with winger Simon Kennewell finishing off a rapid attacking play, fending off an opponent before putting it down in the corner.

The momentum continued for the home team as the first half ticked on, with fullback Jack Maddocks delivering some accurate kicks to put pressure on New Zealand.

Flyhalf Mason took the penalty shot in the ninth minute to put the Aussies out to a 10-point lead.

Nick Jooste was a late inclusion into the starting line up, replacing Liam Jurd at inside centre and the schoolboy prodigy showed his class, putting Maddocks in space and threatening to score again.

Replacement backrower Harley Fox was influential once again, coming on for Ryan McCauley early in the piece, showing his influence at the breakdown.

Jordie Barrett had New Zealand’s first score in the 19th minute, slotting a penalty goal after failing to get over despite hammering the Australian line.

A pick and go try to Izaak Rodda handed Australia its big buffer in the first half, before a 51st minute Joey Fittock try made Australia’s lead seem unassailable.

Then New Zealand rained down on Australia, with three tries in 15 minutes putting them in the lead with nine minutes to go.

Kiwi fullback Caleb Makene and replacement Sam Nock both scored before the intercept try to Lowe.

Australia U20s coach Adrian Thompson said it was belief that sealed the deal for the side.

"I think they showed belief more than anything," he said.

"They showed character the other night but I don't think they believed in their own ability enough.

"We’d had a bad 3-4 years with schoolboys team losing in terms of confidence hopefully that goes a little way to turning that around."

New Zealand take the Oceania U20s championship overall, on aggregate after a 20 point win in the first game, but that will matter little to Australia who have a timely confidence boost ahead of the World Cup.

AUSTRALIA 25

(Tries: Kennewell, Rodda, Fittock Cons: Mason 2  Pens: Mason 2)

NEW ZEALAND 24

(Tries: Makene, Nock, Lowe Cons: Barrett 3 Pens: Barrett )

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