THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF – FRANCE 17-30 AUSTRALIA
Australia avenged a defeat to France in the Pool B decider with a 30-17 victory in an exciting IRB Junior World Championship third place play-off at the Stadio Plebiscito in Padova.
Having lost 31-25 on 18 June, Australia this time completed a hard-fought victory thanks to an inspirational performance from captain Colby Faingaa, the younger brother of Wallabies Saia and Anthony, in scorching hot conditions.
France had taken an early 3-0 lead with a penalty by Jean Pascal Barraque – who had been one of the stars eight days earlier with 16 points in the pool win – but Australia immediately began to assert their authority, scoring two tries in the opening half hour.
Centre Tom Kingston scored the first after receiving a timely pass from Faingaa and stepping his way to the try line, handing off the French defence with ease, before the captain played a pivotal role in Matt Lucas’ try.
Playing at number 8 rather than his customary flanker role, Faingaa picked the ball up from the base of an Australia scrum before breaking through the French defence and passing to scrum half Lucas with one defender to beat.
Ben Volavola took his tournament conversion tally to 10 with the two tries, before adding a further three points with a penalty to extend Australia’s lead to seven at the break after Geoffrey Palis had scored France’s first try of the match.
The full back was bundled over the try-line by his teammates, with Barraque successfully converting the try to also take his own conversion tally for the tournament to 10.
Australia dominated the territory in the second half, starving their opponents of any possession, but could only add a further two penalties through fly half Volavola.
This meant the Australians had to endure a nervy end to the match as, when France finally gained some territory, a quick lineout saw Julien Come cross the line, raising the French players’ hopes of a comeback.
French hopes were dashed shortly after, however, when Simon Morahan’s score under the posts confirmed Australia’s third place finish, a year after suffering an emphatic 62-17 loss to New Zealand in the final in Argentina.
Although suffering defeat, France had already ensured their best ever finish in the four-year history of the Junior World Championship, having reached the semi finals for the first time in Italy after topping Pool B.
FIFTH PLACE PLAY-OFF – FIJI 17-104 SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa have had a point to prove ever since missing out on the semi finals, determined to show they are a better team than a ranking of fifth would suggest, something they certainly did on Sunday by overwhelming Fiji 104-17 in Treviso.
The Baby Boks were in control from virtually start to finish, wing Tshotsho Mbovane opening the scoring in only the second minute try, touching down the first of 16 tries for the South Africans, equalling their record for a single JWC set against the USA in 2008.
They did not quite top the 108 points they scored that day against the Junior Eagles, but the victory was equally emphatic with 10 different players getting their name on the scoreboard at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
Captain and number 8 Arno Botha claimed only the fourth hat-trick of JWC 2011, touching down twice in the first half as South Africa led 43-17 at the break and then adding the 16th and final try on the stroke of full time.
Mbovane, scrum half Pieter Rademan and centre Jaco Taute also scored braces with Wandile Mjekevu, Nizaam Carr, Francois Venter, Courtnall Skosan, Paul Jordaan and Francois Kleinhans also touching down as South Africa were also awarded a penalty try.
Fiji did cross the line twice in the first half themselves through centre Semi Radradra and wing Josateki Lalagavesi, two players who have caught the eye for the Islanders throughout the Under 20 tournament in Italy.
Despite the emphatic loss Fiji will still be able to look back on the Championship with pride, the victory over Wales in round four guaranteeing them their best ever finish, win or loss on the final day, of sixth since the tournament began in 2008.
SEVENTH PLACE PLAY-OFF – WALES 38-24 IRELAND
Ireland full back Andrew Conway joined New Zealand flyer Zac Guildford as the all-time leading try scorer in Junior World Championship history, but it wasn’t enough to earn his team victory at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso.
Wales ran in five tries to Ireland’s three and fly half Matthew Morgan added three penalties and a conversion – full back Steve Shingler also converted replacement Cory Hill’s try – to beat their Celtic rivals, who had they had drawn 26-26 with in the Six Nations earlier this year.
The Welsh struck early when inside centre Lewis Robling crossed after only four minutes and were never headed. Conway helped reduce the deficit when he touched down six minutes later to notch his fifth try of JWC 2011, matching his effort in Argentina last year to draw level with two-time JWC winner and now All Black Guildford.
But Wales eased away when captain Macauley Cook crossed over after a long period of possession before wing Liam Williams’ brilliant kick-and-collect effort earned him a try to send his side, bidding to end a tournament of ups and downs on a high, in leading 21-14 at half time.
Ireland worked hard to stay in touch but further tries from Hill and flanker Thomas Young put paid to any thoughts of an Irish comeback, though they did grab a late consolation try from second row Iain Henderson, which Paddy Jackson converted.
NINTH PLACE PLAY-OFF – SCOTLAND 14-15 ARGENTINA
Argentina raced away to an early lead in this ninth place play-off but were then forced to hold out against some sustained Scotland pressure to emerge victorious at the Stadio Mario Battaglini in Rovigo.
Los Pumitas scored all of their points in the first 22 minutes, fly half Sebastian Poet grabbing a try and adding a penalty and a conversion from a penalty try as Argentina scored 15 unanswered points.
Scotland, though, did not panic and got themselves back in the contest within minutes when scrum half Sean Kennedy crossed for a try, captain Duncan Weir added the conversion and it could have been even closer had the fly half not missed a penalty attempt.
The Scots pressed hard right from the restart but made several handling errors. They did reduce the margin to a solitary point, however, when full back Stuart Hogg went over in the 55th minute and Weir added the conversion.
Weir might have kicked his side in front three minutes later but missed his penalty attempt, just as Poet had done earlier in the second half. Scotland launched a barrage of attacks for the remainder of the match but to no avail as Argentina held firm to grab their third win of JWC 2011.
11TH PLACE PLAY-OFF – TONGA 22-34 ITALY
The passionate singing of the Italian national anthem was this time a sign of what was to follow, with barely two minutes on the clock when scrum half Guglielmo Palazzani at the heart of everything, darting through an absent Tongan defence to score in the opening minutes and adding a penalty as the hosts led 10-0.
However, Tonga, who found themselves in this play-off last year, hit back with wing Siale Talakai’s try before taking the lead when his fellow speedster Tonga Afu fielded an Italian clearance and ghosted through the sleeping defence to make it 12-10 after 22 minutes.
Michele Visentin, the only Italian try scorer in JWC 2011 before this match, scored his third of the tournament to regain the lead late in the first half with Palazzani adding the extras and a penalty to send the Azzurini in leading 20-12.
Italy’s exhuberance continued after the break despite the heat and it was the driving maul, such a strength of the senior national side, that ultimately helped the Azzurrini secure the victory they so craved, having not wanted to suffer a potential return to the Trophy they won in 2010.
Awarded a penalty try after the Tongans brought down one such drive, Italy employed the tactic time and time again, albeit not with the same effect with one effort adjudged held up by referee Greg Garner. The fourth try of the day did ultimately come through centre Tommaso Castello just past the hour mark.
Palazzani’s conversion took his tally for the match to 19 points and Italy’s advantage out to 34-12 and, although Tonga did finish strongly with two late tries through Nehumi Vanisi and wing Afu it was nothing more than a consolation as the Italians tired.
The final whistle was greeted by huge celebrations from the Italians, knowing they had accomplished their target for the tournament by remaining among the world’s elite nations for Junior World Championship 2012 in South Africa, their coach Andrea Cavinatointo the air.
By contrast, the Tongan players and management were in tears after finishing bottom, just as their fellow Pacific Islanders Samoa had done in the 2010 tournament in Argentina.
Day 5 buzz
David Nucifora, Australia coach
“We were obviously very disappointed with the first clash with the French and we had something to prove to ourselves after two losses. We felt that we probablyshould have put that game away a lot earlier because we had dominated the whole game but we didn’t quite make the break on the scoreboard from them. It’s a good win for us and third is a reasonable result in this tournament.
“The conditions out there today were stifling. It took a lot of courage to keep going out there and trying to play because it was incredibly hot and we’ve got some pretty exhausted boys.”
Colby Faingaa, Australia captain
“Third, we’re super happy about that. Everyone is still excited. We just wanted to come out and put on a good show for Australia. We knew last time we played France we didn’t play to the extent we could have and today we came out and started well and kept on doing that the whole way through.”
Dawie Theron, South Africa coach
“We really played well but it’s still a bitter pill for us to swallow not being higher up. We had our chances against England and we didn’t finish but today the guys, like against Ireland in the previous game, we showed what we can do if we keep the ball and if we finish and today was a spectacle of what we can do.”
Macauley Cook, Wales captain
“I’m really pleased. We lost against Fiji and we were bitterly disappointed. The camp was down but we managed to pick ourselves up and that was a good performance today. We know how tough this Ireland team are. We played them in the Six Nations and they’re a great side. To beat them like we did was a great effort for us and I’m really proud of the boys.
“We were very switched on for the game beforehand and really wanted to win. We had lost two of our games so we wanted to show the Welsh public that we are a good team and I think we’ve done that today.”
Jordi Murphy, Ireland captain
“The heat was very difficult but it was difficult for both teams. It was just our inability to play for 80 minutes. We kind of switched off and Wales punished us when we did, but there was some good play out there from both teams. We have to take some positives out of it. We have to learn not to switch off at critical times. We were a man down and they scored a try when we really should have been down in their half putting them under pressure.”
Lucas Sartori, Argentina captain
“We started quite fluidly but Scotland got stuck in and it got harder. We had to defend hard in the second half but thanks to our good start we managed to hold on for this win.”
Peter Wright, Scotland coach
“Of all the games we’ve played it’s probably the most disappointing. For all the effort we put in we didn’t get the reward. To lose the game by a point and to have as much possession as we had is disappointing. Unfortunately we just didn’t have enough in the tank in the fifth game to finish them off.”
Duncan Weir, Scotland captain
“We’ve played some brilliant rugby at times and it’s just not come off on the scoreboard.”