Aussie U20s sneak by Samoa

World Rugby U20s Championship
by Sam Phillips

The Australian U20s have been pushed to the edge by a brilliant Samoa side, scraping home with a 33-26 win.

When these teams met at the Oceania Championship it was one way traffic but it was anything but tonight.

Simon Cron's team were outplayed in the first 40 minutes by a Samoan side that had an insatiable thirst for the contest.

The Australians, in contrast, were lackadaisical in their approach to the breakdown and were made to pay in the form of possession and territory.

The Samoans had plenty of it in the first-half and though they only scored the one try, the Australians were void of any attacking momentum.

When they did get the ball in the Samoan half, the ball was too often played unnecessarily deep and was sent wide far too quickly.

That made the Aussie runners easy pickings for Samoan players looking to put shots on and it took some individual brilliance to open up holes.Rob Valetini showed plenty of potential in the first half. Photo: World Rugby/Lasha KuprashviliRob Valetini, Henry Hutchison and Liam McNamara have impressive attacking arsenals and they threatened with every touch.

Hutchison wriggled his way over for the first try of the afternoon with 13 minutes gone and Nucifora slotted a penalty soon after but it was the Samoans that took a 10-8 lead into the sheds at half-time, Tanielu Tele'a scoring their try and Hunter Paisami adding the extras to go with a late penalty.

The second half couldn't have started any worse for the Aussies.

Samoa pinched the restart and within three minutes, the Australians were left shorthanded on the right wing and Alexander Pohla dived over to make it 15-8.

The changes Simon Cron made late in the first half and at half-time started to turn the tide.Dylan Riley scored a cracking try. Photo: Photo: World Rugby/Lasha KuprashviliShambeckler Vui, Jordan Uelese and Reece Hewat all made their presence known in defence and after holding Samoa out for a dozen phases turnover ball spread to Dylan Riley.

The outside centre ran 50 metres untouched to put the Aussies back on level terms with 30 minutes to play.

The Australian set piece play was its best weapon for the majority of the night and that proved critical in setting up their third try of the afternoon.

An explosive scrum forced a tighthead on halfway, which led to replacement halfback Harrison Goddard slipping a perfectly weighted grubber through for Semisi Tupou to clean up and score.

Hutchison had already scored a try and he set up another with a fantastic athletic grab from a pinpoint Sione Tuipulotu cross field kick, McNamara the beneficiary of Hutchison's wonderful work.

The Samoans trailed 27-15 at that point but refused to lie down.

They knocked down the Australian door for eight phases before finally forcing an overlap, Pohla slipping away to score his second.

The booming boot of reserve fullback Ricky Pauli Ene brought the Samoans within four but Harrison Goddard sealed the match with a final penalty on the siren.

If the Australians are to get near England on Friday, marked improvement will be required.


Australia U20s 33

Tries: Hutchison, Riley, Tupou, McNamara

Cons: Nucifora, Goddard

Pens: Nucifora, Goddard 2

Samoa U20s 26

Tries: Tele'a, Pohla 2

Cons: Paisami

Pens: Paisami, Ene 2