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Representative Rugby

World Rugby U20 Championships: Matchday 1 – Italy claim dramatic win in tense opening round

1st June 2018
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The World Rugby U20 Championships began in fine style on Wednesday evening with some engaging encounters.

 

Four of the six games resulted in losing bonus points, while England were in a real battle against Argentina in the first half before pulling away. Only the reigning champions, New Zealand, truly dominated, beating Japan 67-0.

 

The story of the day was surely Georgia running South Africa close. The Georgians gave the 2012 champions a real scare and it took a dominant third quarter from South Africa to give the side that beat Wales and England in warm up games any breathing room, eventually winning 33-27.

 

In the other Group C game host nation France took on Ireland in an incredibly tight contest. France eventually won it, 26-24, but had to come back from 17-5 down at half time to take the win on home soil.

 

Over in Group A New Zealand, as mentioned, were in flying from against Japan but they look likely to face some stiff competition in the next two rounds from Wales and Australia after they played out a thriller in Beziers.

 

The winner of that game was always going to be vital in this group. New Zealand are favourites but both Wales and Australia had legitimate beliefs that they could reach the semi finals as the best runner up ahead of their round 1 meeting. Obviously though a defeat would all but end those hopes, and so it was Australia whose tournament kicked off in disappointment, with Wales taking a 26-21 victory in a game that they had managed to just keep their noses in front of from half a way in. A fantastic start to the tournament for Wales, led by Leicester Tigers flanker Tommy Reffell.

 

Group B looks incredibly evenly matched with Scotland, Italy, and Argentina all equally capable of taking points from each other, and even of stealing wins against England, who are chasing a sixth final in a row.

 

England were given a fright by Argentina early on, heading in at half time just 19-15 up after tries from Henry Walker and a brace from the magnificent Jordan Olowofela.

 

The 2013, 2014, and 2016 champions rallied well in the second half though, taking control of the game with the likes of Ehren Painter and captain Ben Curry dominant up front will Olowofela was a terror in the back division. Tries followed though a second for Walker and a magnificent one for Marcus Smith to complete the scores after a stunning Olowofela break.

 

That sent England to the top of the group, but there was more drama in Group B to come as Scotland and Italy played out a thriller. Italy had beaten Scotland in the U20 6 Nations so the Scots were out for revenge. They looked good for the win too as the game entered the final stages, 26-22 up with Italy reduced to 14.

 

However this plucky Italian side, in fact plucky is unfair, this excellent Italian side, do not know when to give up and they piled the pressure on. Penalties soon followed and eventually the referee had to go to his pocket, sending Scotland sub Sam Grahamslaw to the bin.

 

With the numbers even Italy pounced through a barrelling forwards try to seal a dramatic win with the very last play of the game, securing the 27-26 victory and putting themselves in with a real shot of a first ever semi final spot.

 

The teams are back in action on Sunday with games kicking off at 1pm and 3.30pm BST. Group A sees New Zealand face Wales in another crucial game in that group, while Australia face Japan in the early kick off.

 

Over in Group B Scotland kick things off with what is now a crucial game against Argentina, while England face an Italian side that will be absolutely buzzing with confidence at 3.30pm.

 

Group C meanwhile sees the hosts kick things off against that impressive Georgian outfit, while Ireland have a crucial fixture against South Africa.

 

World Rugby U20 Championship Round 1 Results:

 

Group A

New Zealand 67-0 Japan

Wales 26-21 Australia

 

Group B

England 39-18 Argentina

Italy 27-26 Scotland

 

Group C

France 26-24 Ireland

South Africa 33-27 Georgia

 

Group Standings:

 

Group A
Pos Team W D L BPs Points
1 New Zealand 1 0 0 1 5
2 Wales 1 0 0 0 4
3 Australia 0 0 1 1 1
4 Japan 0 0 1 0 0

 

Group B
Pos Team W D L BPs Points
1 England 1 0 0 1 5
2 Italy 1 0 0 1 5
3 Scotland 0 0 1 1 1
4 Argentina 0 0 1 0 0

 

Group C
Pos Team W D L BPs Points
1 South Africa 1 0 0 1 5
2 France 1 0 0 1 5
3 Ireland 0 0 1 1 1
4 Georgia 0 0 1 1 1

 

World Rugby U20 Championship Fixtures (All times BST):

 

Group A

Sunday 3rd June:

Australia v Japan, 1pm, Narbonne

New Zealand v Wales, 3.30pm, Beziers

Thursday 7th June:

Wales v Japan, 5.30pm, Perpignan

New Zealand v Australia, 8pm, Perpignan

 

Group B

Sunday 3rd June:

Scotland v Argentina, 1pm, Perpignan

England v Italy, 3.30pm, Perpignan

Thursday 7th June:

Italy v Argentina, 5.30pm, Beziers

England v Scotland, 8pm, Beziers

 

Group C

Sunday 3rd June:

France v Georgia, 1pm, Beziers

South Africa v Ireland, 3.30pm, Narbonne

Thursday 7th June:

Ireland v Georgia, 5.30pm, Narbonne

South Africa v France, 8pm, Narbonne

 

Semi Finals – Tuesday 12th June

 

Finals – Sunday 17th June