Junior Wallabies notch win against Japan

World Rugby U20s Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia has its first win of the World Rugby U20s Championships, beating Japan 54-19.

It was far from an easy win for Australia, who had to withstand some Japanese surges through the game, but they proved a class above overall.

The Junior Wallabies wanted to back their attack, looking to the corner after an earlier penalty, and they reaped the rewards, with a Semisi Tupou score in the fourth minute.

Mack Hansen had one three minutes later, with a super pass out the back of Matt McTaggart’s hand putting the fullback over

Japan showed fight in defence, though Australia took control of the match early on, looking for territory off the boot as well.

The Japanese had their own try-scoring effort in the 16th minute, with fullback Kyohei Yamasawa powering over the line for their first.

Tate McDermott was impressive, leading the Aussies against Japan. Photo: AFPJapan had a second in three minutes, with Kai Yamamoto finishing off a slick set piece play to narrow the scores to just two points.

Melbourne Rebels centre Tupou proved a dangerous attacking weapon for the Aussies, but forward passes and Japan’s tough defence kept them out.

New inclusion Michael Wood had Australia’s third on the half-hour mark, crashing through the Japanese defence for a score.

A McTaggart run snuffed out by desperate Japanese defence, but hooker Efi Maafu gave the Aussies some joy, driving over the line, with two defenders hanging off him

Japan had the edge early in the second half, with an intercept giving them the first attacking chance of the half, but the Aussies earned the ball back.

Tupou tried to smash through the Japanese wall but a knock on snuffed out his chance of scoring.

The Junior Wallabies peppered the Japanese line, but impressive breakdown work from Japan alleviated that threat, in an early second half deadlock.

The Junior Wallabies beat Japan on Sunday night. Photo: AFPFinally, the weight of territory paid off for australia, with MAtt McTaggart toeing the ball through a gap just shy of the line to extend the margin.

McDermott finished off a Tupou burst for Australia’s sixth in the clash, and then his replacement Ryan Lonergan scored one almost immediately after being injected into the match.

Lonergan had another just two minutes later, making the most of his limited minutes off the bench.

Replacement prop Lawrence Tominiko was sent to the sin bin in the 76th minute, for a swinging arm tackle, leaving Australia a man down, and only a desperate Angus Blyth defensive effort prevented Japan from making them pay immediately.

It was second time lucky for Japan, using some smart forward play to go over right on full-tim.

Maafu’s night ended early with what looked like a shoulder injury, in a sour note for the Aussies.

Australia takes on New Zealand in the final pool round on Thursday night, 9pm local, Friday morning 5am AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.

RESULT

Junior Wallabies 54

Tries: Lonergan 2, Tupou, Hansen, Wood, Maafu, McTaggart, McDermott

Cons: Lucas 4, Harrison 3

Yellow Cards: Tominiko

Japan 19

Tries: Yamawasa, Yamamoto, Vakalahi

Cons: Mamada