The Australian Under 20s have been beaten by defending champions England 38-24, at the IRB Junior World Championship in Auckland on Friday afternoon.
Australia had won all four of their preparation matches as well as their opener against Argentina on Monday. England, however, proved too strong on the day as they outscored the Aussies five tries to three.
Australian Head Coach Adrian Thompson praised the efforts of the Under 20s team and their resilience to bounce back time and again throughout the 80 minutes.
“I thought the boys played with a lot of passion and did well to stay in the game, considering the pressure England was mounting on us.
“Our scrum was solid and we looked dangerous in attack off the set piece but put ourselves on the back foot with a few missed tackles in defence.”
Thompson added: “There were plenty of positives to take out of today and we will look to re-group ahead of Italy next week. That game is now absolutely critical for us if we want to progress into the latter stages of the tournament.”
Australia drew first blood with an attacking scrum in the opposition twenty-two providing the platform for a set play, which saw Andrew Kellaway touch down in the corner.
A penalty against Australia the following play saw England’s Billy Burns convert to bring the score to 7-3. It marked a considerable shift in momentum as England tested Australia’s defence with some brutal counter-attacking skills and pace out wide.
Australia was under siege as England notched up two tries in five minutes, thanks to some creative play from halfback Henry Taylor. Kellaway responded just before half-time to reduce the arrears to 24-17 and notch his fourth try of the tournament so far.
The English scored the opening try of the second forty when Gus Jones scored down the left but Australia bounced back again. Flyhalf Jake McIntyre answered with an impressive solo try off the back of a rock-solid Australian scrum and added the extras himself.
Nathan Earle, a danger man for the English side throughout, duly scored his second try of the game with twenty minutes left to play to put the game out of sight and cement a 14-point win.
Australia will take on Italy in their must-win, final game of Pool A on June 10, 15:35 AEST. The match will be broadcast on FOX SPORTS 1HD.
Australian Under 20s results and fixtures at the IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand:
Australia 36-17 Argentina (Pool A)
Australia 24-38 England (Pool A)
Australia v Italy (Pool A), 10 June, 15.35 AET