Perese powers Aussie U20s to big win

World Rugby U20s Championship
by Sam Phillips

Izaia Perese has stolen the show at the World Rugby U20s, scoring a devastating hat trick to power the Australian U20s to a 42-19 win against Italy.

Perese has been among Australia's best all tournament and it was his brilliance that proved the difference between the two teams in the first 50 minutes, when the game was won.

The star centre's explosive power was only matched by the Australian scrum which, along with the lineout, provided a terrific platform for Harrison Goddard and Hamish Stewart to launch wave after wave of attack.

The halves controlled proceedings with poise for all but the second quarter of the match, where the Italians made the Australians pay for a drop in intensity.

Aside from Perese, Liam Wright was at his pickpocketing best at the breakdown, with Reece Hewat putting in another fine captain's knock on both sides of the ball.Jordan Uelese has been a force at hooker. Photo: World Rugby/Levan VerdzeuliJordan Uelese continued his terrific carries, pumping his legs to put himself over the gain line with every touch.

The Australians started with a bang but it was due to individual brilliance more than well worked team play, as Perese had a double inside the first 10 minutes after a pair of breathtaking bursts.

The first came from absolutely nothing, a loose pass 30 metres out from the Australian line creating an opportunity for Perese to scoop the ball up, turn on the jet shoes and split the Italians up the middle, as he ran 70 metres to score.

That was followed five minutes later by another sharp turn of foot, this time Perese running a perfect support line for Wright, who slipped a terrific offload to the outside centre.Reece Hewat put in another big shift on the defensive end. Photo: World Rugby/Levan VerdzeuliIt was 14-0 at the 10 minute mark but that's where the first half was turned on its head.

The Australians had plenty of ball but couldn't find the go forward they had on tap against England, turning to cute kicks and passes that didn't work.

That created opportunities for the Italians, who scored two tries in the final five minutes of the first half to only trail 14-12 at the break.

The first of the Azzurri tries was a well worked overlap in the left hand corner but it was the next five pointer which was cause for concern.

The Italians had clearly done their homework and were rushing the Australian running lines behind the front line but the Aussies seemingly did not catch on - Harry Hockings throwing a lazy intercept which Antonio Rizzi picked off and dished to Giovanni D'Onofrio, who scored under the sticks.Shambeckler Vui caused the Italian defence plenty of concern. Photo: World Rugby/Levan VerdzeuliThe Italians threatened again early in the second term after Perese blew an opportunity to set up Australia's third but Hewat saved the day with a massive counter ruck effort.

That triggered the attack which opened the floodgates for the Australians.

Perese nabbed his third in the minutes after, Wright again dishing the try assist after Hamish Stewart found the flanker over the top of more Italian defenders rushing out of the line.

Goddard then extended the lead with 55 minutes on the clock, burrowing over to get a reward for the understated role he played all afternoon.

That was followed by a try to Sione Tuipulotu, the inside centre rewarded for supporting his own cross field kick to Semisi Tupou after the winger collected the loose ball.

Dal Zilio then crossed for his second before Hewat was rewarded for all his hard work, picking the ball up after his pack drove over the top of an Italian feed and diving over in what would be the final scoring act of the match.


Australian U20s 42

Tries: Perese 3, Goddard, Tuipulotu, Hewat

Cons: Goddard 5, Nucifora


Italy U20s 19

Tries: Dal Zilio 2, D’Onofrio

Cons: Rizzi 2