Rugby: Welsh a keg up after upset win

By Campbell Burnes

NZ coach Chris Boyd. Photo / Getty Images
NZ coach Chris Boyd. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand coach Chris Boyd was suitably grateful to Wales and was planning an appropriate gift after the young Dragons pulled off an upset win over France to ease the home side's path into the Junior World Championship semifinals.

"We'd offered the Fijians 100 litres of kava if they denied Ireland the four tries, so I guess we'll have to send down something to the Welsh, maybe a nice keg of their favourite tipple," said a relieved Boyd after New Zealand had beaten Scotland to become the fourth qualifier in the pool section.

Wales' 13-3 victory in the Albany rain was the ideal result for New Zealand, as neither side picked up a bonus point, momentarily placing Australia in the unlikely pole position. By kickoff, New Zealand knew they had to beat Scotland by five points and secure the bonus point.

Many of the New Zealand team were getting updates from the Wales-France clash on the bus to Pukekohe.

"With the Welsh, I suppose you'd say upsetting the French, that allowed us to come back. We'd lost control of our destiny up to that point, and the Welsh gave it back to us and we took advantage of that," said Boyd.

While it was a fine victory for Wales over the Six Nations champions, it was small consolation as they finished second in a congested Pool B, where three sides had two wins each, and New Zealand's predicament was of no import to them. They will rue not picking up a bonus point in the 35-21 loss to Ireland, a result which turned the tournament on its head. Now Wales cannot reach the final as they did in 2013, and will have to upend France again in the Sunday playoffs for fifth to eighth positions.

Coach Byron Hayward was more than pleased, with the win on Tuesday.

"All credit to every player out there for their performance on the field, and for all the effort the boys and management have put in since the loss to Ireland. It was a great collective effort in difficult conditions.

"It is pleasing to beat France who are Grand Slam champions and were unbeaten all season until today. Unfortunately we now have to do it again, but we know we can do it and if we win, there is the carrot of playing for fifth place at Eden Park on finals day."

- NZ Herald

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