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IRB Junior World Championship 2010
England book semi-final date with Australia
Scrum.com
June 13, 2010

England U20s set up a IRB Junior World Championship semi-final showdown with their Australian counterparts with a 17-9 victory over France U20s in their final pool clash at Estadio El Coloso del Parque in Rosario.

Australia U20s accounted for South Africa U20s 42-35 at the Estadio CA Colon in Santa Fe where New Zealand U20s also extended their winning run with a 43-10 win against Wales U20s to book a final four clash with the Baby Boks.

France, who were bidding to make the Junior World Championship semi-finals for the first time, dominated for much of the first half before fly half Jean Marc Doussain kicked a penalty to open the scoring. With the Jamie George-led side taking a while to find their footing, France managed to hold their opponents scoreless for the first quarter until an indiscretion in front of the posts gave Burns the opportunity level the scores with a penalty.

Doussain edged France ahead once more, but with both sides eager to finish top of the Pool any attacking play was soon shut down, allowing little opportunity to cross the whitewash and put some distance between them and their rivals. With his side trailing 6-3 and clearly eager to see his players stamp more authority on the game, England coach Mapletoft quickly brought on forwards Alex Gray and Jacko Wray, along with fullback Tom Homer, to inject some impetus.

The tactic worked as England became difficult to stop, producing wave after wave of attack and frustration finally got the better of Lamerat when he was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle by referee Fransisco Pastrana. England, runners up to New Zealand in the two previous JWC finals, capitalised on their man advantage within minutes, centre Gibson charging up the touchline before stepping inside the French defence to touch down and give his side the lead for the first time.

Gilles Bosch ensured France remained touch with a 76th minute penalty, but England had the final say with Burns landing a penalty in the dying minutes to deny their opponents even a losing bonus point.

South Africa, who beat Australia 32-5 in the third place play-off in last year's tournament in Japan, were handed the dream start with a second minute penalty, which fullback Patrick Lambie made no mistake with. South Africa raced to an 8-0 lead after as many minutes when half backs Louis Schreuder and Elton Jantjies combined well to send wing Wandile Mjekevu over for the game's opening try.

The start may not have been what Australian coach David Nucifora was hoping for, but he would have been pleased with their resolve, a wonderful breakout and race down the touchline by centre Robbie Coleman resulting in a try for Dominic Shipperley. Matt Toomua, who toured with the Wallabies last November, kicked the conversion and a penalty to give Australia the lead for the first time, although a knock on by Phoenix Battye proved costly when Jaco Taute raced away with Lambie getting the final touch down.

Once more, though, the classy Coleman single-handedly dragged Australia back into the lead, instantly spotting he had two forwards in front of him and racing through the gap to give Toomua a straightforward conversion to give his side a lead they would never surrender. Things got even better for Australia when Shipperley picked up his second try, the 19-year-old cutting the perfect line off his wing to slice through the defence with his pace taking him past would-be tacklers to touch down with Toomua's conversion making it 24-13.

South Africa, though, were handed a lifeline with seconds remaining until half time, Australia electing to run the ball out and losing it, allowing prop Marcel van der Merwe to drag three opponents over the line and still turn over to ground the ball. Within minutes of the restart, Lambie - who played Super 14 rugby for the Sharks this season - cut the deficit to 24-23 with his second penalty, but again Australia hit back with Kimami Sitauti's miss-pass finding Shipperley with only a prop between him and try-line.

Jantjies thought he had scored within minutes, but referee Garratt Williamson ruled that the Baby Boks fly half had lost the ball forward. However it proved only a temporary respite with Lambie drawing the defence before releasing Mjekevu to race over the line. His second try of the game, allied with Lambie's conversion, brought the Baby Boks back to within a point at 31-30, but Australia would have reasserted their advantage had it not been a for captain CJ Stander's charge to beat Aidan Toua to the grounding.

Australia, though, were not to be denied as Toomua kicked a penalty and then minutes later Ed Quirk touched down his side's fifth try, the flanker having the strength to dot the ball down to make it 39-30 and leave South Africa needing two tries to regain the lead. They got one of them when replacement Branco du Preez broke through the Australian defence and the impressive Taute managed to ground the ball in the corner, despite Luke Morahan trying to push him into touch first.

Lambie crucially missed the conversion, meaning that Toomua's 77th minute penalty - which took his own haul to 17 points in the match - left South Africa needing a converted try to tie the match. They pushed forward but failed to find it to leave Australia celebrating the win.

South Africa's two earlier bonus point victories over Scotland and Tonga meant they accrued more points than Wales and France, the two other pool runners up and so progress to the final four where they will play New Zealand who swept Wales aside with a clinical display in Santa Fe. The two-time defending champions ran in six tries picking up their eighth bonus point victory in nine Junior World Championship pool matches and extending their unbeaten run to 13.

Captain Tyler Bleyendaal had kicked the Baby Blacks into the lead with a second minute penalty and then gave Wales a timely reminder that any indiscretion around the halfway line was likely to be punished, the fly half putting a kick from his own 10 metre line slightly wide of the posts. New Zealand's first try came in the eighth minute, lively scrum half Tawera Kerr-Barlow picking up from the breakdown and darting through a gap left by Welsh captain Josh Navidi to race clear, Bleyendaal kicking the conversion to keep the scoring at more than a point a minute.

Bleyendaal saw a penalty from the halfway line strike the uprights, but it wasn't long before the Baby Blacks increased their advantage, Kerr-Barlow's no look pass allowing wing Julian Savea to bounce off the Welsh defence to touch down in the corner. Matthew Jarvis finally got Wales on the score board in the 19th minute with a penalty to make it 17-3, but despite some good defence keeping the Baby Blacks at bay it was another piece of class from Savea that kept the scoreboard ticking over.

The New Zealand Sevens star, who scored a record equalling four tries against Samoa in the last match, caught the ball on the left wing, cut across the pitch and slipping a tackle by Ashley Beck before darting through the gap to touch down his sixth try of the tournament. Bleyendaal curled the conversion in again to push New Zealand through the 600-point barrier in Junior World Championship history, but the next score went to Wales when hooker Rhys Williams powered over the line for only the fourth try the Baby Blacks have conceded in nine pool matches.

Unfortunately for the Baby Blacks they lost Savea not long after with the wing appearing to injury his hip, but having settled again the bonus point was secured in the 36th minute when a long pass from Kerr-Barlow cut out three Welsh defenders, allowing Telusa Veainu to send Tom Marshall over in the corner. It took a while, though, for New Zealand to increase their 31-10 half time advantage, a combination of the plucky Welsh defence and the Baby Blacks' decision to throw the ball wide more rather than the pick and goes that had worked so well in the first half.

Having gone close several times, the sin-binning of Welsh prop Will Taylor at the hour mark finally got the scoreboard ticking over again, Veainu - moved to the wing after Savea's exit - benefitted from a backflip pass from Kerr-Barlow to race clear. Bleyendaal's vision was constantly finding gaps in the defence, both for himself and his teammates, and led to New Zealand's final try, catching James Loxton out of the line to give Marshall space to score his second of the game.

Replacement Hayden Parker was unlucky not to score a brilliant solo try, his chip ahead bouncing just over his head, to leave the Baby Blacks now forced to wait to see who their opponents in the semi finals on Thursday will be.

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