England triumph and New Zealand run riot at World Rugby U20 Championship

England 39-18 Argentina. New Zealand 67-0 Japan.

0
301
views
England U20 and Argentina U20 line up for the national anthems / Joe Ruzvidzo
England U20 and Argentina U20 line up for the national anthems / Joe Ruzvidzo

NARBONNE – It took some desperate tackling to deny a dazzling Jordan Olowofela his hat-trick, as England overran an initially defiant Argentina team here on Wednesday, on day one of the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship.

England sensation Marcus Smith warming up before coming off the bench to score a try / Joe Ruzvidzo
England sensation Marcus Smith during the pre-match warmup, before coming off the bench to score a try / Joe Ruzvidzo

The legendary Stade d’Honneur bathed in early evening sunshine as the two teams got their tournament under way, with England hotly tipped as one of the favourites to prize the trophy out of New Zealand’s hands.

Santiago Chocobaras scores the opening try / Joe Ruzvidzo
Santiago Chocobaras scores the opening try / Joe Ruzvidzo

Argentina didn’t get that memo, as they scored after only four minutes, Santiago Chocobaras gleefully snatching up a midfield handling error and sprinting home from halfway, to the delight of the small but boisterous group of Los Pumitas supporters.

Their happiness was short-lived as Olowofela opened his account in the seventh minute, before an Argentina penalty saw them nudge ahead. England hooker Henry Walker, one of the standout players on the park, then scored off a textbook lineout drive.

James Grayson floats a pass for Jordan Olowofela to score / Joe Ruzvidzo
James Grayson floats a pass for Jordan Olowofela to score / Joe Ruzvidzo

Argentina never gave up, eighth-man Juan Bautista Pedemonte scoring off a classic pick up from the back of a five-metre scrum, before Olowofela added his second to lift England into a 19-15 lead at half-time.

Walker’s second try straight after the restart seemed to knock the stuffing out of the boys in blue, and they only managed to add a penalty to their points tally.

Part of the crowd on the opening day of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Narbonne
Part of the opening day crowd at the World Rugby U20s in Narbonne / Joe Ruzvidzo

By this time England were fully in charge and camped in the Argentina half. The impressive Olowofela made another daring run through the defence, only to be bravely taken down with meters to go. A clever pop pass sent replacement fly-half Marcus Smith through, after the Quins starlet did well to stay in support of the flying winger, to score the easiest try of the day.

The 39-18 loss did little to dampen the spirits of the Argentina supporters, who remained buoyant throughout and gave a standing ovation to both teams.

England U20: T: Olowofela (2), Walker (2), Smith. C: Grayson (3), Hardwick. P: Grayson, Hardwick.
Argentina U20: T: Chocobaras, Pedemonte. C: Daireaux. P: Daireaux, Mendia.

NZ U20 perform the haka as Japan U20 look on / Joe Ruzvidzo
NZ U20 perform the haka as Japan U20 look on / Joe Ruzvidzo

The late game saw New Zealand take on newly-promoted Japan under floodlights, and the defending champions went about dismantling their opposition from the first minute.

The furious start was dampened by a downpour after half an hour, with rain so heavy the spectators in the open section were invited into the covered stands. That classy gesture further electrified the appreciative crowd, New Zealand eventually going into the sheds 38-0 to the good after Japan’s solitary effort was disallowed for offside.

Will Tucker scores New Zealand's opening try / Joe Ruzvidzo
Will Tucker scores New Zealand’s opening try in the first minute / Joe Ruzvidzo

The second half featured a series of handling errors in the light drizzle, but New Zealand expectedly finished strong to make the final tally 67-0. Jamie Spowart scored a hat-trick and Leicester Faingaanuku bagged a brace, while sevens flyer Vilimoni Koroi and skipper Tom Christie also contributed a try apiece. Will Tucker, Xavier Roe and John Akau’ola-Laula also dotted down, but schoolboy star Bailyn Patterson’s solo effort from halfway was the try of the day.

Kaleb Trask attempts the conversion after a try by Vilimoni Koroi / Joe Ruzvidzo
Kaleb Trask attempts the conversion after a try by Vilimoni Koroi / Joe Ruzvidzo

New Zealand U20: T: Spowart (3), Faingaanuku (2), Koroi, Sullivan, Aka’uola-Laula, Tucker, Christie, Roe. C: Trask (5), Plummer.
Japan U20: 0

Fixtures & Results | Standings | Teams

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.