World Rugby Under 20 Championship Day One Round-Up

England enjoyed a perfect start to their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign with a bonus-point victory against Argentina in Narbonne.

England enjoyed a perfect start to their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign with a bonus-point victory against Argentina in Narbonne.

Jordan Olowofela, who played in all five games during the 2018 Under-20 Six Nations, and Henry Walker both scored braces as the Red Rose triumphed 39-18.

The Pumas scored the first points of the game when they latched onto a spilled ball to give Santiago Chocobares a clear run to the posts, with Juan Bautista Daireaux sending over the extras.

England responded quickly as Olowofela wriggled over and James Grayson converted, before Daireaux kicked a penalty to edge Argentina 10-7 in front.

Walker bundled over off the back of a collapsed maul for a second converted England try, but Argentina regained the lead when Bautista Pedemonte barrelled over the line to make it 15-14.

However, a powerful maul and neat hands from England put Olowofela in space for his second try and England’s third as Steve Bates’ side went into the break 19-15 ahead.

A Grayson penalty shortly after the break stretched the advantage and minutes later Walker charged over for a second try and the bonus-point score.

Joaquín de la Vega Mendía’s penalty reduced the deficit to 11 points before Tom Hardwick’s long-range effort restored the lead to 14 with just under 20 minutes left on the clock.

A late Argentine yellow card was capitalised on by England as Olowofela surged deep into Argentina territory before lifting an offload into the path of replacement Marcus Smith – who crossed the whitewash.

England will play Italy next in Perpignan on Sunday after they overcame Scotland with a dramatic last-minute pushover try to break Scottish hearts in the other Pool B encounter.

Scotland went into the game looking for revenge after being beaten by the Azzurri 45-31 at Stadio della Vittoria in the final game of this year’s Under-20 Six Nations.

Bryan Redpath’s side looked on course for an opening group win after leading 13-7 at the break, with Paddy Dewhirst scoring a sublime second-half try to extend their advantage.

But the Italians closed the gap when Alessandro Forcucci powered over in the corner, before replacement hooker Niccolo Taddia dotted down to seal a 27-26 victory.

“It was a huge disappointment for the boys and myself,” said Redpath. “I thought they were outstanding for 90 per cent of the match, but there were three instances where we didn’t manage to get it right in the final five minutes and we learned tonight that you pay a heavy price for things like that at this level.

“I’ve been brutally honest with the boys about that being a lesson in the reality of senior, international rugby.

“They need to learn from the experience because things like that will keep happening unless they are a bit more streetwise about making the right decisions and being accurate at key moments.”

In Pool C, South Africa kicked off their campaign with an unconvincing 33-27 victory against Georgia, coming from behind after trailing 17-12 at the break.

Under-20 Six Nations champions France were also run close by Ireland as they held on to claim a nail-biting 26-24 victory at Stade De La Mediterranee in Béziers.

Les Bleus defeated Ireland 34-24 on their way to the 2018 Championship, but they found themselves 17-5 behind at half-time after tries from Joe Dunleavy and Hugh O’Sullivan.

France closed the gap at the start of the second half through Arthur Coville’s converted try, before taking the lead with further scores from Romain Ntamack and Maxime Marty.

A late try from Harry Byrne gave Ireland hope with eight minutes remaining, but they were unable to breach the French defence again as they joined the Springboks at the top of Pool C.

Elsewhere, New Zealand laid down a marker with a dominant 67-0 victory over Japan in Pool A, while Wales edged out Australia 26-21 in a tight encounter.

A red wave of defence – coupled with a tireless ambition to attack – led Wales to a World Rugby U20 victory on opening night against the Junior Wallabies at the Stade de la Méditerranée.

Wales banished any memories of 2017’s last-gasp defeat to Australia at the same stage of this tournament with tries from Ioan Nicholas and Joe Goodchild, plus 16 points from the boot of Cai Evans, ensured victory.