NZ are Under 19 champs

New Zealand Rugby News     14 Apr 2004

It was just reward for a team that improved with each outing and dominated every match they played and earned them their third title in four years and their fourth overall.

New Zealand outscored France by four tries to one in a final which was largely one-sided as the men in black controlled the ball and starved the French of possession.

Despite some fine tries and a great result the most poignant moment was at the medal presentation when Caroline McCall, mother of John McCall the Ireland flank who died in the opening match of the tournament against New Zealand, handed the team their medals.

Each player hugged and kissed Mrs McCall before she broke down on the shoulder of flank Serge Lilo and coach Aussie McLean.

New Zealand then ripped off their shirts and did a spontaneous haka surrounded by players from the other competing teams to fittingly round off what had been both a tragic and joyous celebration of rugby.

France scored the opening points of the match through a penalty from right wing Mathieu Bourret in the third minute that was the last time they would lead.

New Zealand then started to control possession and played with great composure and patience as they gradually wore down the opposition.

The French resistance eventually crumbled in the 10th minute after a build-up of nine phases allowed hooker Lance Po-Ching to break through in the midfield and score to the left of the uprights.

New Zealand virtually set up camp in the French 22-metre area after that with only brief spells inside their own half.

Ironically their second try came from a sweeping move that started in New Zealand's 22 and ended with a try when excellent lock Michael Paterson galloped 20 metres to score after second-five Seminar Tinera-Manu burst through the defence.

France held New Zealand back from further tries for the remaining 16 minutes of the half, but they tired from the tackling and were duly softened up for the second period.

It was the French however who scored the first points of the second half, again from a penalty. New Zealand fullback Miah Nikora added a penalty to restore a comfortable lead in the 41st minute before his team turned the screws.

Flank Kieran Read barged through a hole in the defence and scored a deserved try on 49 minutes to put the game out of sight.

France briefly resurrected slim hopes of a comeback when centre Maxime Medard scored a neat try, stepping through a small gap in the midfield.

But New Zealand just moved back into French territory and Nikora slotted a second penalty before the try of the match.

Wing James Somerset robbed the ball from a ruck and fed Read, who timed a superb pass to the flying lock Jeremy Thrush to score to ensure victory.

New Zealand . Tries: Lance Po-Ching, Michael Paterson, Kieran Read, Jeremy Thrush. Conversions: Miah Nikora (4). Penalties: Nikora (2). France. Try: Maxime Bedard. Penalties: Bourret (2)

New Zealand: 15-Miah Nikora; 14-Luke Devcich (Joseph Utiera-63), 13-Aaron Bancroft, 12-Seminar Tinera-Manu, 11-James Somerset, 10-William Ripia, 9-Taniela Moa (Brett Goodin-42); 8-Mikaele Tuu'u (Daniel Crichton-62), 7-Serge Lilo (Onosai Tololima-Auva'a-49), 6-Kieran Read (Adaam Ross-66), 5-Michael Paterson, 4-Jeremy Thrush; 3-Travis Church (Tyler Ashworth-45), 2-Lance Po-Ching (Hikawera Elliot-42), 1-Jamie Mackintosh (captain).

France: 15-Florian Denos; 14-Mathieu Bourret (Julien Jeuvrey-57), 13-Thibault Lacroix, 12-Maxime Medard, 11-Nicolas Pardo; 10-Robin Janisson (Benjamin Dambielle-49), 9-Fabien Cibray (captain) (Sebastien Borde-63); 8-Florent Foucarde (Arnaud Epito-49), 7-Steeve Malonga, 6-Thomas Dhallhuin, 5-Loic Jacquet (Vassili Bost-50), 4-Denys Drozdz; 3-Yohan Montes, 2-Arnaud Heguy (Laurent Sempere-48), 1-Florian Cazalot