The BMW Australia U20s have defeated Wales U20s 24-17 in a tough first match of the World Rugby U20s Championship in Tbilisi, Georgia on Thursday morning.
The match went right down to the wire with the winning try coming in the 78th minute through Queensland Reds flyer, Izaia Perese when the scores had been locked at 17-17.
The victory puts Australia in the second position in Pool A on four points, behind England on five points who won their first match against Samoa 74-17.
Across the tournament, Ireland fell to Italy 22-21 in a shock win for the young Azzuri in Pool B and in Pool C there was a 23-23 draw between France and South Africa. Despite a strong start by Scotland, they couldn’t match it with New Zealand, falling 42-20.
BMW Australia U20s Head Coach, Simon Cron said: “The Welsh are very strong side, a good Six Nations team and they have had a big campaign and they were always going to be a big challenge for us. We knew we were going to have to play for 85 minutes and in the end, that’s what happened.
“I was really happy with the defence, I thought we stood up quite well and I thought overall it was pretty good.
“I think the scrum was really strong and set the platform for us, we know the set-piece is crucial for the game.
“Samoa are extremely strong and very flexible with quick line speed. We are going to have to get better than what we were today to push them and I think there are a few of our processes we could get better at.”
Australia will take on Samoa U20s on Sunday 4 June at 9.30pm AEST as they look to continue their campaign in Pool A with the match to be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.
In the opening exchanges of the match, Australia moved the ball well from side to side but a strong Welsh defence turned back the tide of green and gold. It was the young Dragons who were the first to score in the match when Cameron Lewis crossed near the posts to give Wales a 0-7 lead.
Wales dominated territory and possession but Australia’s defence kept them at bay with final touches just inhibiting the Aussies from building momentum.
A yellow card for Simon Kennewell for a lifting tackle penalty created more defensive headaches for the young men in gold in the 22nd minute of the match. Wales attempted to push home their man advantage but were unable to maintain possession.
Australia was asking questions of the Welsh defence and a penalty at the breakdown allowed scrumhalf, Harrison Goddard to kick a penalty which closed the gap to 3-7.
Australia’s scrum won the ball off a Welsh feed which created an attacking opportunity for the young men in gold who marched well into Wales’ red zone. Good handling and some patience by Australia allowed the men in gold to score their first try through Aussie 7s flier, Henry Hutchison who powered his way over the line. Harrison Goddard converted to give Australia the lead for the first time in the match, 10-7.
Australia had the chance to extend the lead on the cusp of half-time when Captain Reece Hewat made a break through the line with Henry Hutchison just met by the cover defence before the line bringing an end the exhausting first half for both sides.
The second half turned into a real scrap as both sides fought to wrestle the advantage away from each other. It took 15 minutes but Wales were the first to strike with a break that allowed Dane Blacker to score and give Wales a 10-14 lead.
Australia countered immediately off a brilliant run by Liam McNamara and Semisi Tupou who combined well to put Australia in Wales’ red zone. Harry Johnson-Holmes was the man who found the line with the powerful front rower, smashing his way through two Welsh tackles off the back of a ruck to score and retake the lead for the men in gold.
Both sides through everything at each other with Australia consistently standing up in defence when required as the scores remained unchanged with five minutes left to play in the match.
Wales built pressure really well but unable to find a gap in the Australian line, leaving fly-half Arwel Robson no choice but to slot a drop goal to level the scores with three minutes to go.
Australia never backed down and Izaia Perese who had been threatening all evening finally broke unabated through the Welsh line to score the winning try and give Australia a 24-17 lead.
Australia held onto the ball for the final moment with Harry Nucifora waiting to send the ball into touch and secure an important victory for the BMW Australia U20s.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
4 mins: Try Cameron Lewis, Arwel Robson con AUS 0-7 WAL
30 mins: Pen Harrison Goddard AUS 3-7 WAL
35 mins: Henry Hutchison try, Harrison Goddard con AUS 10-7 WAL
55 mins: Dane Blacker try, Arwel Robson con AUS 10-14 WAL
58 mins: Harry Johnson-Holmes try, Harry Nucifora con AUS 17-14 Wales
77 mins: Arwel Robson drop goal AUS 17-17 WAL
78 mins: Izaia Perese try, Harry Nucifora con AUS 24-17 WAL
Australia U20s 24 (Henry Hutchison, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Izaia Perese tries; Harrison Goddard, Harry Nucifora 2 cons; Harrison Goddard pens) defeated Wales U20s 17 (Cameron Lewis, Dane Blacker tries; Arwel Robson 2 cons; Arwel Robson drop goal)