Junior Wallabies finish World Cup warm-up on a high with Baabaas win

World Rugby U20s Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Junior Wallabies enjoyed a 94-0 win over the Australian Barbarians on Wednesday night but the scoreline was the last thing on coach Jason Gilmore's mind.

While the scoreline looks impressive on paper, Gilmore said he was simply pleased for the hit-out two weeks out from a World Rugby U20s Championship campaign in which they will come up against some big opponents.

Having a physical test was the priority for the Junior Wallabies and Gilmore said they well and truly had that.

"The scorelines are irrelevant in those types of game. It was just good for our boys justto get a bit of contact back into their bodies, just play at game intensity again with their fitness and as we've mentioned the whole time just building momentum on what we did at the (Oceania U20s on the) Gold Coast," he said.

"You look at the centres in the Baabaas, they really hit the gain line hard against Joey Walton and Semisi Tupou so they certainly had their hands full at contact."

In a 14-tries-to-nil performance, the national U20s side controlled proceedings against a gritty Barbarians side comprised of fringe Super Rugby players and some fellow U20s aspirants.

The Baabaas came together on the day of the match, with just hours of lead-in time compared to the Junior Wallabies' four months of preparation and the cohesion really showed for Australia.

It was a win that was built off some strong forward work, with dominance in the set piece opening things up for the youngsters' backs who duly delivered.

They didn't have it all their own way in the early stages and Gilmore said he was pleased with the character the side showed.

"I thought the pleasing thing tonight was we were up against it at the start of the game, we were a little bit flustered and a little it scrappy so we fought back nicely," he said.

Mark Nawaqanitawase showed off his silky skills in the 10th minute, weaving through the Barbarians line and though he was pulled down short, hooker Lachlan Lonergan gave them a rolling maul try just a minute later.

Tighthead prop Darcy Breen showed that the Junior Wallabies weren't just there to attack, coming out of the line for a bone-crunching defensive hit as well that signalled his team's intent.

The Junior wallabies were dominant across the line. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile they had opportunities to score in open play, it was the pack that the Junior Wallabies used to really stamp their authority early.

A penalty try in the 20th minute stretched the Junior Wallabies’ lead to 12 points.

it was after that that the game really opened up for the Junior Wallabies after that, giving their flashy backs the chance to stretch their legs.

Nawaqanitawase lit up the match with a 60-metre intercept try in the 27th minute as the Junior Wallabies began to really build momentum.

Sione Tui added to the highlights reel with another long-range score just two minutes later.

Rebels centre Semisi Tupou made it five first-half tries for the national side in a dominant opening 40.

Inside centre Joey Walton gave the Junior Wallabies the perfect start to the second half with a running try, before halfback Michael McDonald finished off a slick attacking chain to 

Gilmore praised the work of both McDonald and his replacement Harry Robertson on a night where they set the tone for the side.

"I thought the two halfbacks, Michael McDonald and Henry Robertson, controlled things well around the ruck and even Joey Walton for a full 80 minutes for him, he's a young bloke that's doing really nicely at the moment and who's up against good opposition, he kept putting his hand up," he said.

A second try from Lonergan put the national U20s past the 50-point mark and that was enough for the coaching staff to roll out all but one of their subs bench for the final half hour.

Longergan's replacement Joe Cotton added to the hookers' night of celebration with two tries in five minutes, split by a super finish from replacement back Jack Walsh.

Isaac Henry, Esei Haangana and Tui completed the Junior Wallabies' tally and put them just six points short of a century.

With some of their key attacking weapons in Triston Reilly and Kye Oates on ice, the result will give the young Aussies plenty of confidence heading into next month's World Rugby U20s.

The Junior Wallabies fly to Argentina on Monday and face Italy on June 4 in the World Rugby U20 Championships opener

Junior Wallabies 94

Tries: Lonergan 2, Cotton 2, Tui 2, penalty, Nawaqanitawase, Tupou, Walton, McDonald, Walsh, Henry, Haangana

Cons: Harrison 6, Donaldson 5 

Australian Barbarians 0