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Another triumph for NZ U-20s in Georgia

World Rugby

Lynn McConnell     05 Jun 2017     World Rugby

Once containing an energetic and robust Italian pack, the New Zealanders delivered a warning to fellow contenders that they were in Georgia on a distinct mission in a nine–try blitz.
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The superior skills of the New Zealanders made light of the Italian forward effort and it was a demonstration of the depth of skills available to them when substitute back Tamati Tua received the ball at first five-eighths on his own 22m line only to weave his way through and around the Italian defence on a startling run in the 69th minute which resulted in a stunning individual try.

It was the most graphic example of the skill but it wasn't the only one. Along the way, the penalty goal landed by first five-eighths Tiaan Falcon, his third en route to scoring 19 points in the game, saw New Zealand become the first side to pass 2000 points in the competition.

Italy rocked the New Zealanders with an intercept try to fullback Simone Cornelli who out-stripped the defence on an 80m run to the line in the first minute of play.

Initially, the New Zealand side replied with two penalty goals landed by Falcon in the first eight minutes. When fullback Will Jordan took an Italian speculator and ran the ball back, he chipped the ball over the defence, regathered the ball in Beauden Barrett fashion, and out-paced the Italian defence to score.

The Italians came back, via their lineout maul which was used to good effect by their athletic pack for lock Niccoli Cannone to ground the ball at the base of the goalposts which with deadeye dick goal-kicker landing another conversion, they were back within a point.

The New Zealand response was immediate when left wing Caleb Clarke burst through in the midfield to link with centre Braydon Ennor. He then fed second five-eighths Orbyn Leger, who was able to run down the left-hand touchline to score New Zealand's second.

A lovely piece of ball control by Clarke in taking an Italian clearance on the sideline before sending a long pass to Jordan who then gave right wing Jona Nareki a dream run in to the corner to score four minutes later.

Cannone lost the ball in a tackle 32 minutes into the game and Ennor was able to grab the ball and have enough pace to run in New Zealand's fifth try.

Just before the half-time break the Italian maul was in action again and it was flanker Michele Lamaro who scored Italy's third try.

Down 21-39 the Italians started the second half strongly on attack but the ball was turned over by flanker Adrian Choat and halfback Kemara Hauiti-Parapara took advantage to make a strong run towards the distant left-hand corner. When it seemed the cover had him in their sights, he reverse passed to Clarke who stormed over for his second.

Italy reverted to their lineout drive to apply pressure and in the bid to contain it New Zealand were warned about taking the maul down, and when it happened again it was captain Luke Jacobson who wore the wrath of the referee and was sin-binned.

That resulted in an inevitable try from the penalty with hooker Alberto Rollero scoring the side's bonus point try.

Ringing the changes with around 30 minutes remaining, New Zealand had to settle but when Jordan fielded another long Italian kick he linked with Nareki who fed Ennor. The centre took a superb outside gap then passed inside to prop Pouri Rakete-Stones who ran in a fine try.

With only Ireland to face in pool play, New Zealand are well-placed to make a strong bid to regain the world title.

Scorers: New Zealand Under-20 68 (Will Jordan, Orbyn Leger, Caleb Clarke 2, Jona Nareki, Braydon Ennor, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Tamati Tua, Adrian Chote tries; Tiann Falcon 5 con, 3 pen; Leger 2 con) Italy Under-20 26 (Simone Cornelli, Niccoli Cannone, Michele Lamaro, Alberto Rollero tries; Filippo de Marco 3 con). HT: 39-21