World Rugby U20 Championship day three round-up

Romain Ntamack kicks to touch 16/3/2018
In the final pool games of the World Rugby U20 Championship there were some amazing results, including wins for Italy, France and England.

In the final pool games of the World Rugby U20 Championship there were some amazing results, including wins for Italy, France and England.

Many NatWest 6 Nations stars were performing at the best, with plenty more to come from the competition.

Here’s a round-up of an action-packed evening across France.

POOL A Wales needed a bonus-point win to give them any chance of making the semi-finals but Japan pushed them all the way to a 18-17 finish in Perpignan.

Halatoa Vailea opened the scoring for Japan, but Harri Morgan hit back for Wales immediately, only for Miyu Arai to put Japan ahead again.

Two penalties from Cai Evans gave the Welsh the lead before the break and Dewi Cross’ second-half try looked to have sealed the game, but Siosai Fifita’s converted try in the last five minutes meant the Japanese finished with just a single point less than their counterparts.

Wales captain Tommy Reffell: “Not frustrated at all, we knew Japan would probably have their eyes on us at the start of the tournament, so to come away with the win is good. Credit to them they made the score line a lot closer than we wanted it to be.

“Fair play to the boys, it’s the third game in now and a couple of them have had a lot of playing minutes, so we’ll keep grinding out those games and get as many good results as we can.”

The victory meant Wales finished the pool stage in second place after New Zealand beat Australia 27-18, leaving the Ozzies two points behind the Welsh.

POOL B Italy managed their best ever finish to a pool stage with an impressive 30-26 victory over Argentina in a great game at Stade De La Mediterranee.

The Azurrini, knowing they had to secure a bonus-point victory to give them any chance of making the semi-finals, got off to a brilliant start and were 19-0 up after half an hour thanks to tries from Damiano Mazza, Giovanni D’Onofrio and Lodovico Manni.

Argentina responded with a try each side of half-time through Leopoldo Herrera Rezzonico and Santiago Caerras.

Mazza got his second, before Carreras also scored another to keep the gap at 10 points with 15 minutes to go, but a penalty from Antonion Rizzi gave the Argentinians too much to do, despite a late touch-down by Ignacio Mendy.

The victory meant they finished the pool stage on 10 points and waited in anticipation to see if South Africa would triumph over France and give Italy the chance to go through as the best second-placed team.

Italy captain Michele Lamaro said: “It’s incredible, it was a really great match, all 23 players have played their part in this win, it’s history for Italy, we’ve never been second in a pool.”

England maintained their unbeaten run in the tournament with a comprehensive 35-10 victory over Scotland.

Gabriel Ibitoye impressed yet again, running in two tries on the wing, along with scores from Beck Cutting, James Scott, Joel K’Poku and Matt Williams leaving Scotland shell-shocked.

The Scots managed a try through Kyle Rowe but they couldn’t replicate their NatWest 6 Nations performance to beat Steve Bates’ team in Beziers, while the English will face South Africa in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

England captain Ben White said: “Scotland showed real good heart and courage, it’s always a good fixture between the Scots, but we really dug deep and showed what we could do.”

Scotland captain Robbie Smith said: “It was disappointing after the first half, as we were saying at half time in the changing rooms, we were sticking it to them. But we came out and made to many errors, against a team like that they’re going to punish you.”

POOL C The best game of the evening came in Narbonne as France booked their place in the semi-finals with a barn-storming 46-29 victory over South Africa to top the pool.

Les Bleuets had not beaten the Baby Boks in more than a decade but they came flying out of the blocks and were scoring a point a minute in the first half, with two tries from Jordan Joseph, one from Louis Carbonel, and two more from Pierre Louis Barissi and Romain Ntamack.

The South Africans did manage one score just before the break as Schalk Erasmus muscled over, but it was to be their game in the second half as they mounted an attempt to overhaul the score line.

Tiaan van der Merwe and top try scorer of the tournament Wandisile Simelane dotted down, before Alulutho Tshakweni got the bonus point for the Baby Boks that would send them into the semi-finals as the second-placed team with the most points.

The French will take on defending champions New Zealand on Tuesday in Narbonne, hoping to put on a display much like the first-half of this final pool game.

France captain Antonin Berruyer said: “It was a very good first half, we wanted to have rhythm so we wanted to start very hard. I think we performed well in this game and now we must recover and go for the semi-final.

“This week we worked on the ruck because we didn’t do well in the ruck so today we won there, and with our fight.”

It wasn’t to be Ireland’s day as they fell 20-24 to a strong Georgian side, meaning they finished bottom of the pool, but will have a chance at redemption when they face Scotland for the ninth-place play-off in Perpignan on Tuesday.