BEZIERS – Another barn-storming performance from Waikato speedster Bailyn Sullivan helped New Zealand overcome a belligerent Welsh side here on Sunday, as the defending champions eased to their second bonus-point win at the 2018 World U20 Championship.
The rain falling on the Stade de la Mediterranee dampened the spirits of some supporters, but failed to contain the energy of the Kiwi youngsters, who went into their second match with an almost entirely new pack and Sullivan out on the right wing.
His destructive impact was felt as early as the third minute after he sneaked into midfield and held off three Welsh players before off-loading neatly for Matt Proctor’s younger brother Billy to score the opener.
The first of many soft refereeing decisions went against Vilimoni Koroi, who was binned for what was judged a deliberate knockdown to prevent a Welsh score. The energised Welsh continued to press and eighth-man Taine Basham capitalised on the yellow card with a flying finish in the corner worthy of any highlight reel.
New Zealand however were in a mood, and scored a great team try after a valiant effort from the Welsh pack to hold off a five-meter attacking scrum. A series of passes and breakdowns led to Sullivan scoring easily out wide in the 24th minute.
The try of the day came five minutes later, as Koroi showed some sevens flair with a dummy and run from fullback, off-loading to Sullivan out wide who rode the tackle of his opposite number to feed back inside for skipper Tom Christie to score.
After New Zealand lost flanker Tom Florence to the bin for a dangerous tackle, their fly-half Harry Plummer belted an audacious penalty from almost 50 meters in the driving rain to make it 25-10 at the break.
The relative calm of the second half was shattered after twenty-five minutes when replacement tighthead Tevita Mafile’o defied his 118kg frame to charge down a Welsh clearance, race 30 meters and scoop the wet ball off his bootlaces for the easy try.
Another long camp in the Welsh half eventually saw the extremely useful Xavier Roe sneak over after a quick tap. Tenielu Tele’a led with 10 tackles in the match, but was binned right before the end for getting one late.
The scoreline may have been slightly closer had Wales kept a lid on the defensive errors, and New Zealand eventually won it 42-10, albeit with a black mark on their disciplinary record for the three yellow cards.
New Zealand U20: T: Proctor, Sullivan, Christie, Mafile’o, Roe. C: Plummer (4). P: Plummer (3).
Wales U20: T: Basham. C : Evans. P : Evans.
Earlier in the afternoon, France rode out a challenging tie against the plucky Georgians. The Georgia efforts were led by scrumhalf Gela Aprasidze, a revelation at last year’s competition who now plies his trade 40 minutes up the coast with Top 14 runners-up Montpellier. It was Aprasidze’s initial run which saw them open the try-scoring, although wave after French wave eventually saw the tournament hosts leading 17-7 at the break.
Both teams worked hard in the pouring rain, with a few infringements creeping into the game. France scored again, before Georgia scored late to make the final tally 24-12 in favour of the hosts.
France U20: T: Lavault, Vincent, Etcheverry. C: Carbonel (3). P: Carbonel.
Georgia U20: T: Jalagonia, Dzagnidze. C: Aprasidze.