Australia’s U20s will miss the World Championship semi-finals for the third consecutive year, after a 13-17 loss to England.
Australia needed a bonus point win to keep themselves in contention for the final four but could manage just one try in their final pool match, against the hosts.
The opening minute could not have gone any better for Australia, with fullback Jack Maddocks capitalising on an England error to turn the ball over and score under the posts in the opening minute.
That proved to be the only try the Aussies scored all game,though, failing to get on the board in any way after half-time.
The pace of the game dropped a handful of notches after that frenetic start, with a fierce set piece battle putting pressure on the Aussies.
Australia absorbed much of that but still handed away two penalty shots to England flyhalf Harry Mallinder, who made one to narrow the margin to four points.
Holding a major weight advantage in the forwards, the Australia U20s asserted their dominance in the scrums but handling errors in attack cost them chances to punish England on the scoreboard.
A 27th minute penalty to Australia flyhalf Mack Mason stretched Australia’s lead to seven points, before Mallinder replied with another three-pointer of his own.
Mason made England pay for mistakes as the half went on, slotting three first-half goals from as many attempts, also going on to be his final record.
Australia’s playmaker had a hand in almost everything his side mounted in attack, including Maddocks’s five-pointer, in a man of the match performance.
Two Harry Mallinder penalties and a try to centre Joe Marchant put England in front with 15 minutes to spare, leaving Australia a mammoth challenge to overcome, before
The result means Australia finishes second in its pool, but with too few points to claim the best runner-up spot in the semi-finals.
Australia captain James Tuttle said his side let England off the hook in the second half, unable to convert their opportunities in attack.
"I think we took the foot off the throat at the start of the second half," he said.
They played smart, kicked penalties. We let ourselves down and lost the game ourselves in the second half."
Tuttle said they wouldn't be struggling for motivation, set to vie for another fifth place finish.
Every time we put the jersey on play for our family and friends back home and also our whole country."
Australia is not the only heavyweight nation to miss the knockout stages, with New Zealand set to miss the semi for the first time.
The Aussies will play Scotland in their first fifth-place play off.
(Tries: Maddocks Cons: Mason Pens:Mason 2)
(Tries: Marchant Pens: Mallinder 4)