New Zealand Under 20s crowned Oceania Rugby champions

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New Zealand’s success in winning the Oceania crown for the fifth time passed the 62-17 scoreline they beat Australia by in the 2010 World Cup final. 

 

At last conditions were warm and dry which enabled the New Zealand team to fully express themselves. The visitors led 40-0 at halftime.

 

The floodgates opened in the first ten minutes. New Zealand stretched play to both touchlines before hitting the middle. Openside Wallace Sititi took a pass from No.8 Peter Lakai and strolled over untouched. The conversion by Lucas Cashmore made it 7-0.

 

Cashmore had a productive outing, often taking the ball to the line and troubling the Aussies defence. A firm left-hand fend on an opposing tackler allowed him to create a second try for centre Riley Higgins.

 

Halfback Noah Hotham started all three matches and his all-round value was showcased in the third try. He hoisted a demanding box kick which wing Macca Springer gathered just outside the Australian 22. Spotting space down the short side, Hotham darted free.

 

 

Australia was in complete disarray. A charge down by second five-eighth Jone Rova allowed Cashmore to profit and then skipper and hooker George Bell rumbled over for a rolling maul try following an Australian yellow card.

 

Things got even worse for the hosts when they conceded a penalty try. Wing Jade Te Iwi chased a well-placed attacking kick with vigour and hassled retreating first-five Jayden Blake into deliberately battering the ball dead. 

 

New Zealand maintained the momentum at the start of the second half with Te Iwi rewarded for his graft and Springer following up his tries against Fiji and Argentina with yet another five-pointer.

 

The lineout was imperious and Bell was the main benefactor from that weapon scoring two tries to finish with a hattrick.  

 

New Zealand scored 175 points and only conceded three tries in winning the competition. Higgins and Bell started all three matches and are likely to feature in the Bunnings NPC next month. 

 

Te Iwi ran powerfully and showed versatility by operating in midfield too. Springer looks like a very polished player. Locks Fabian Holland, Jamie Hannah, and Tahlor Cahill all grew in stature.

 

Australia finished third after Argentina beat Fiji 61-5.

 

New Zealand U20s 69 (George Bell 3, Wallace Sititi, Riley Higgins, Noah Hotham, Lucas Cashmore, Jake Te Hiwi, Macca Springer, Josh Beehre tries, penalty try; Cashmore 6 con) Australia U20s 12 (Darby Lancaster, Adrian Brown tries; Mason Gordon con)

 

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