The Junior Rugby World Championship opened with a good round of rugby with some competitive games along with the expected big wins.
How did your Predictions go?
6 from 6, so a good start but there weren’t any surprises so many people got the same.
Ireland 18 – 16 Argentina
France 19 – 10 Wales
England 59 – 7 Japan
Australia 34 – 22 Samoa
South Africa 33 – 5 Italy
New Zealand 68 – 10 Scotland
Ireland might have been the vast majority of people’s pick but it took the last kick of the game to win it for the men in green. Argentina came into this competition with two losses to South America but they had put in strong performances. This is a game that they will feel they should have and if they had made their kicks they would have done. Both sides gave up 9 penalties but Argentina gave up 7 within kicking range so a long with better kicking discipline is also something they will be looking to improve. Ireland sneaked over the line but will want to add a more cutting attack and get over the white wash.
France Wales was the one game that split opinion. France though raced out to an early lead and a couple of tries in the first 15 minutes. Some might have thought they were going to run away with it but that’s all the managed in the first half to lead by 9 at halftime. Another early try in the second half opened a big lead and France needed it. Wales came in with the reputation of being the fittest team and mounted a come back but only managed one try.
England dominate the first half straight from the beginning and kept a good flow of points to lead 45-0 at halftime. Japan fought much harder in the second half and restricted England to only 14 points with one of the tries came with the last play of the game. England laid down an early marker and they will need it as they have France and Wales in their group who are both dangerous opponents.
Australia won their second game of the year against Samoa but this one was much closer than last time. It looked like Australia had built a good lead in the first half until Samoa took advantage of a yellow card to pull it back 7 points on half time. In the second half Australia took advantage of a yellow card to pull out the lead once more. Then in the last 20 minutes Samoa got a try only for Australia to strike back and then it repeated it’s self all over. Samoa didn’t manage it this time but an upset win doesn’t look far away.
Italy struck first against one of the pre-tournament favourites South Africa. South Africa did reply to that try with one of their own. The home team though were holding their own until a shoulder charge reduced them to 14. South Africa took full advantage and scored two tries to open up a comfortable lead before halftime. Italy weren’t able to get back into the game and South Africa capped the game with two late tries even when they also went down to 14 men.
New Zealand racked up the biggest score of the day and they did get the first points on the table. Scotland though fought back to take the lead after quarter of an hour. Unfortunately they didn’t manage any more points as New Zealand ran in nine tries. In doing so they racked up over 800 meters running with the ball in hand. Looking at the stats the plan was get it out to the backs and let them run. Even with leaving some players back home for Super Rugby duty New Zealand are clearly going to be one of the teams to beat.