Perese scores late stunner to snatch victory for Aussie U20s

World Rugby U20s Championship
by Sam Phillips

A stunning Izaia Perese try with two minutes to play has snatched a 24-17 victory for the Australian U20s in their opening pool match of the World Rugby U20s Championship.

It appeared as though the Australians would be forced to settle with a 17-all draw when Wales slotted a drop goal with three minutes to play but the Australian outside centre had other ideas.

Perese was Australia's biggest threat with ball in hand all night and after his teammates won the restart, he showed blistering pace to slice through the Welsh line to score the match winner.

The try put the Australians in front but it was their defensive effort in the final 20 minutes which kept them alive.

Facing a nasty headwind which limited Hamish Stewart and Liam McNamara's ability to clear, Australia simply had to defend, defend and defend some more.Liam McNamara had a hand in two of Australia's tries. Photo: World Rugby/Lasha KuprashviliWales threw everything they had at the Australian line as they set up camp in their attacking half but the Australian side showed tremendous heart, exploding with emotion every time a member of the forward pack forced a turnover.

On paper, this was a completely different team to the one Simon Cron rolled out at the Oceania Championships and the team played a completely different brand of rugby tonight.

The ball movement was both fluent and frequent, as Stewart and halfback Harrison Goddard searched for holes on the fringe of the Welsh defence from the outset.

They may have looked cross-field a touch too much before going forward, though, as the attack spluttered through the first half.

There was too much passing behind the gain line which allowed Wales to wait for the ball to shift and pick off runners with ease.

It was Wales that opened the scoring through Cameron Lewis inside the first ten minutes and they looked every bit the more polished side in the opening quarter.Henry Hutchison scored Australia's first try of the tournament. Photo: World Rugby/Lasha KuprashviliThe Australians hit back through a Henry Hutchison try, created by some individual brilliance from McNamara.

The Aussie Sevens star slipped a slick offload around the corner to open up the break which put Hutchison over.

The Australian backrow - particularly skipper Reece Hewat - wrestled ascendency in favour of the men in gold for the remainder of the first half and that trend continued early in the second half.

Perese starred at outside centre, Stewart consistently finding him running some terrific lines to repeatedly put Australia over the gain line.

But Wales put their noses back in front against the run of play with a superb try to halfback Dane Blacker - No. 8 James Botham peeling off the back of a scrum to streak away and set up the try.

Australia did not roll over and returned serve with a try to Harry Johnson-Holmes, McNamara again instrumental in the lead up play.Angus Scott-Young spots a gap. Photo: World Rugby/Lasha KuprashviliThat left the score perched at 17-14 in Australia's favour with 20 to play.

This was where the game was won by the Australians, as they forced Wales to settle for a drop goal before Perese stole the show with the scintillating sealer.

After the match, Hewat said he never doubted his team.

"We had the structure all game, it was just about the execution," he said.

"I had faith in the boys and they came through in the end."


Australia U20s 24

Tries: Hutchison, Johnson-Holmes, Perese

Cons: Nucifora 2 Goddard

Pens: Goddard

Wales U20s 17

Tries: Blacker, Lewis

Cons: Robson 2


Drop Goals: Robson