New Zealand Under 20 fall short to the Junior Wallabies in game one

GettyImages 1494179906

In an entertaining and free flowing match both sides scored four tries with a first half penalty try to the Junior Wallabies and a late penalty to fullback Mason Gordon proving the difference.

New Zealand U20s coach Clark Laidlaw was pleased with his side’s performance and how the team had gelled during a week together at the NZCIS facility.

The match was the first step for both sides as they build toward the World Rugby U20 Championship in South Africa. The return match on 3 June will be a curtain raiser to the Hurricanes v Crusaders Super Rugby Pacific match and Laidlaw will welcome back a number of players to his squad including Noah Hotham, Macca Springer, Siale Lauaki, Harry Godfrey and Will Stodart as well as All Blacks Sevens representative Caleb Tangitau

The first match was a close-run affair from the start.

The Junior Wallabies were more clinical early after withstanding a prolonged period on defence to earn the first points of the match via a deserved penalty try awarded by excellent referee Rueben Keane (Australia) on the 22-minute mark.

The home side struck back when they earned a lineout close to the line and stand out blindside Malachi Wrampling-Alec forced his way over from close range, halfback Riley Williams tying the scores with the first of his three conversions on the day.


It was very much tit for tat scoring throughout with the Junior Wallabies replying when halfback Teddy Wilson sniped up the middle from a ruck and fed second-five David Vaihu, who finished the try for a 14-7 lead on the half hour mark.

The Junior Wallabies took advantage of an extra man after New Zealand prop Bradley Crichton received a yellow card for a high tackle. The visitors took their chance with clinical finishing by right wing Ronan Leahy bagging the first of three tries on the day thanks to a sweeping counterattack.

New Zealand were next to score when a pinpoint cross kick from replacement fullback Finn Hurley found wing Issac Hutchinson to make it 19-14 at the break.

Leahy got his second after a neat blindside move from a 5m lineout. New Zealand struck back with a nice set piece scrum play. Hutchinson threw a long pass to Codemeru Vai, who finished the job to make it 26-21 with 30 minutes still to play.

Leahy replied with his hattrick, Hurley used his acceleration to sneak out wide and it was 31-26 with just 12 minutes to play.

Junior Wallabies fullback Gordon extended the lead to 34-26 and, despite two late yellow cards reducing the visitors to 13-men they held on for a deserving win.

New Zealand U20s 26 (Malachi Wrampling-Alec, Isaac Hutchinson, Codemeru Vai, Finn Hurley tries; Riley Williams 3 con) Junior Wallabies 34 (Penalty try, David Vaihu, Ronan Leahy 3, Jack Bowen 2 con, Mason Gordon penalty). HT: 19-14


View all