Trans-Tasman rivals set for final showdown
June 20, 2010
Australia's Jake Schatz and New Zealand's Tyler Bleyendaal pose on the eve of their showdown in Rosario © IRB
New Zealand will take on Australia in the final of the IRB Junior World Championship in Rosario on Monday.
The southern hemisphere rivals will go head-to-head at the Estadio El Coloso del Parque for Under-20s supremacy with New Zealand looking to defend the title they have monopolised since the the re-structuring of the IRB's age-grade competitions in 2008. That unbeaten run reached 14 games with their 36-7 mauling of South Africa in the semi-finals while Australia accounted for England 28-16 in their last four encounter.
Australia are once again set to be led by inspirational captain Jake Schaltz who has had an outstanding tournament and he will be joined in the back-row by the influential Colby Faingaa, who returns after missing the last two matches with a foot injury, and the equally impressive 18-year-old Liam Gill. Coach David Nucifora can also call on Super 14 experience in their backline with the likes of Brumbies fly-half Matt Toomua and Reds fullback Luke Morahan.
"We're used to playing Kiwis, we play them all the time so they don't really hold that same aura that they may do for other teams," Nucifora said. "Our boys play them from a young age, through school quite often, so I suppose we're used to competing with them and we know if we go out there and we match up and do our best, we are more than capable of beating them.
"It'll take 80 minutes of commitment. If you let your guard down even for a small period of time, they're the type of team that will punish you. They're got good attacking players, like ourselves, so the team that copes with pressure and absorbs pressure and can deliver on point-scoring opportunities when they present themselves, will win."
The Kiwis embarked on the defence of their crown with just one survivor from the squad that powered to the title in Japan last year - prop Willie Ioane - but this latest crop of young stars have picked up where their predecessors left off. Coach Dave Rennie also has a talismanic captain in the form of Tyler Bleyendaal who like team-mate Julian Savea is amongst those nominated for the IRB Junior Player of the Year Award (Australia's Robbie Coleman is also shortlisted). Bleyendaal will pull the strings once again at fly-half in an unchanged starting side while Savea will look to add to the eight tries he has scored en route to the final.
"The boys are very excited at being involved in a Junior World Championship Final and looking forward to testing themselves against a very strong Australian side," Rennie said.
The game will be preceded by England's clash with South Africa in the 3rd/4th place play-off while Argentina and France will meet in the 5th/6th place final. Wales tackled Fiji in the 7th/8th decider, Ireland take on Scotland for 9th place and Samoa and Tonga will do battle for the wooden spoon.
New Zealand U20s: T Marshall; J Savea, S Timu, C Ngatai, T Veainu; T Bleyendaal (capt), T Kerr-Barlow; A Taavao-Matau, L Coltman, J Allen, L Moli, B Thomson, L Whitelock, S Polwart, R Grice
Replacements: P Ngauamo, W Ioane, T Franklin, R Haddon, K Hammington, H Parker, J Woodward
Australia U20s: L Morahan; D Shipperley, K Sitauti, R Coleman, A Toua; M Toomua, N White; S Manu, S Siliva, P Alo-Emile, P Battye, G Peterson, C Faingaa, L Gill, J Schatz (capt)
Replacements: S Robertson, C Ah-Nau, L Jones, E Quirk, I Prior, J Lance, G Jeloudev
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