Aussie U20s "horrific" in win over Fiji on Day Two

by Sam Phillips

Australian U20s coach Simon Cron rated his team's win against Samoa "40 out of 100" but they were far worse in a 32-24 win over Fiji on Tuesday night at the Oceania Championships at Bond University.

He rated his team's performance a "1 out of 100" post match, even if it was somewhat tongue in cheek.

That assessment wouldn't have been far from the mark, though, as one would struggle to find many positives from this Australian performance.

Of the team's four tries, two were Efi Maafu five pointers off the back of rolling mauls and one was a slick loose ball clean up from reserve flyhalf Theo Strang.

Captain Reece Hewat scored the other try, burrowing his way over after several pick and drives.

It must be said that tough wins are better than tight losses but the Australians simply must be better against a New Zealand team that put 83 points on Samoa earlier today.

The most glaring weaknesses were the woeful handling errors and the malfunctioning lineout.

The Aussies showed better skills when it was raining sideways on Friday than they did on Tuesday night, in picture perfect conditions.

Angus Scott-Young, Harry Johnson-Holmes and Reece Hewat were probably the only players that could hold their heads high, as they toiled away admirably on both sides of the ball.

Liam Wright was similarly solid when he replaced Angus Allen at openside flanker but there were far too many passengers on field.

Cron was brutally honest when he spoke to after the match.

"The lineouts were horrific," Cron said.Fiji put the Aussies under some serious pressure tonight. Photo: Oceania Rugby/Sportography"Just over throws and poor timing. Two new locks today but that is no excuse.

"But the dropped balls...

"Tactically and technically they're passing the ball on the line and therefore our players are trying to catch it with two Fijians on top of them - so you drop it.

"There were other occasions where the boys decided to throw a ball into the ground, behind somebody, it was really poor.

"We tried a few new things and a new player group but patterns haven't changed and we haven't added a whole lot in - that was just a team of individuals."Theo Strang impressed when he came on at flyhalf. Photo: Oceania Rugby/SportographyThe squad must quickly re-group ahead of a Saturday night showdown with the New Zealand U20s, who ran out 13 different starters this afternoon and still put 80 points on the Samoans.

"We've got to review this game because to be honest, we are still learning," Cron said.

"A lot of the boys, their approach and how they approach tight situations.

"Today, a couple of them probably hurt their chances around that and that's pressure.

"I'd say that we had six changes and there were some real issues around those changes.

"The lineout didn't function and our launch plays were that of an Under 3 side.

"We have to be miles better - the Kiwis are a class side that play quick ruck speed and they're a good team - they're very cohesive." - Simon Cron.

"We're still finding our feet a little but we have to use it as a trial - today's trial was horrific - but as a coach I've got to fix that."