Junior Wallabies finish in style, claim fifth place

World Rugby U20s Championship
by Sam Phillips

The Junior Wallabies have gone one better than their sixth place finish this time last year, hardly pushing out of first gear in a comfortable 41-15 win over Argentina U20s.

The Australians completely controlled proceedings for the entirety of the match, an unrelenting forward pack punching through the heart of the Argentinian defence with repeated determined carries.

Harry Hoopert, Efi Maafu, Tom Ross and Fraser McReight were responsible for several of those strong carries but it was Harry Hockings who turned 10 minutes of early pressure into points, stretching out to score after a rugged set of pick and drives.

The Argentinians responded against the run of play, forcing a penalty and catching the Aussies napping with a smart cross field kick - Mateo Carreras stepping off his left foot to beat Isiah Latu and level things up in the 15th minute.Fraser McReight starred for the Australians. Photo: World RugbyTo their credit the Junior Wallabies regrouped, went back to what was working for them and turned scrum and rolling maul dominance into five more points - Maafu wriggling his way to the line after the Los Pumitas pulled down two mauls in the minutes prior.

A superb McReight pilfer then handed Lonergan a shot at goal from 40 out which he hit clean as a whistle, the score settling at 17-7 as the two teams trotted into the sheds.

A FIFA World Cup worthy dive from Carreras after he chipped, chased and ran directly into Hoopert - who did not change his line - was penalised by referee Jamie Nutbrown when play resumed and the margin was reduced to just seven points with 30 minutes to play.


Again, to their credit, the Australians held their composure and responded through a penalty to Lonergan, Los Pumitas halfback Manuel Nogues sin binned for a cynical deliberate knockdown.

Ross made the undermanned Argentinians pay with his first try of the tournament as the Australians rinsed and repeated the same tactic - bullying the opposition forward pack with some hardy pick and drives through the middle of the field.

Ross' try extended the margin to 17 but the Argentinians gave themselves a sniff when a rolling maul turned into a try to Santiago Grondona in the 70th minute.

A critical pilfer penalty forced by Tate McDermott with five to play eradicated any hope the Argentinians had, though, a superb Pat Tafa carry and offload setting up Mack Hansen for the icing on the cake before Isaac Lucas crossed for a fitting finale - putting a positive end to an otherwise disappointing World Rugby U20s campaign.

RESULT

Junior Wallabies 41

Tries: Hockings, Maafu, Ross, Hansen, Lucas

Cons: Lonergan 2, Harrison 2, Hockings

Pens: Lonergan 2

Argentina 15

Tries: Carreras, Grondona

Cons: De La Vega Mendia

Pens: De La Vega Mendia