A 69-12 blackout heaped pain on the outclassed Junior Wallabies today when they were on the wrong end of a rout at Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Stadium.
New Zealand’s Baby Blacks dominated every facet of the game in a relentless 11-try display to complete an unbeaten run to the Oceania Under-20s title.
The Junior Wallabies lost backs Jayden Blake and Mason Gordon to first half yellow cards but it was already 26-0 before the first of those extra setbacks.
More than half of the Junior Wallabies squad will still be eligible for Under-20s next season. A future pay-off meant little today. The age difference fed into the Baby Blacks being superior physically and a hammering efficiency at the breakdown with fewer bodies. The Kiwis were tactically sharp with skills to match.
Emerging Crusaders hooker George Bell, already 20, scored a strong-running hat-trick of tries to impress in the opening hour.
It took the Junior Wallabies just over an hour to score their first try when 64-0 behind. Winger Darby Lancaster, who’d made a try-saving tackle earlier in the game, scored on the end of a slick set play from a scrum.
Replacement halfback Teddy Wilson fed the first pass and made his cameo count a second time as the spark for the Junior Wallabies’ follow-up try.
He made a neat surge on the edge of the ruck. Replacement forward Adrian Brown finished it off with the try.
The first sustained build-up by the Kiwis produced a neat final pass to put flanker Wallace Sititi over after just four minutes.
The warning signs of one-way traffic came quickly when impressive flyhalf Lucas Cashmore slipped through the defence and put centre Riley Higgins over for 14-0.
It was better than a point-a-minute scoring when halfback Noah Hotham put up a box kick and Kiwi hustle forced a turnover. The chasing Hotham saw a chance down the skinniest of blindsides and scooted down the touchline for 19-0 after 18 minutes.
It was evident quickly that there were to be no heroics like 2019 when now-Wallabies Angus Bell, Noah Lolesio, Harry Wilson, Lachie Lonergan and Fraser McReight were part of a superb 24-0 win by the Junior Wallabies over NZ on the Gold Coast.
Barely a flicker came from the Australians in a disappointing first half. The Kiwi defence swamped the Junior Wallabies when they did have the ball and they could create no fluency.
Earning a penalty from a strong first scrum, a trysaving tackle on half-time by winger Floyd Aubrey and a big shot by lock Luke Callan were among the only glimpses of gold in the 40-0 first half.
Blake was sinbinned at the 31-minute mark when he went upright into a tackle and there was the hint of high contact.
Flyhalf Mason Gordon tried to get an attack rolling late in the first half when he grubbered a kick into the NZ quarter.
The Kiwis swooped in counter and Gordon was forced into trying to save the situation on his own tryline 90m downfield. He did look to bat the ball dead in-goal with a competing Kiwi hand hitting his from behind.
The referee was overly generous in imagining the Kiwis might be able to dot the ball down in the situation. Not only was Gordon yellow-carded but the ref whistled a seven-point penalty try.
It made things even more difficult on a tough day for Australian rugby’s next generation.
NEW ZEALAND 69 (G Bell 3, W Sotiti, N Hotham, R Higgins, L Cashmore, M Springer, J Te-Hiwi, J Beehre tries; penalty try; Cashmore 6 con) beat JUNIOR WALLABIES 12 (D Lancaster, A Brown tries; M Gordon con