Rugby: Baby Blacks survive Irish challenge

New Zealand beat Ireland to finish top of group B. Phoyo / Michel Renac - IRB.com
New Zealand beat Ireland to finish top of group B. Phoyo / Michel Renac - IRB.com

The New Zealand under-20 rugby team advanced to the semifinals of the Junior World Championships in France after a hard-fought 31-26 over Ireland this morning (NZT).

The four-time champions had to play the last 10 minutes of their final group B match with 14 men after Nick Grogan was yellow-carded but held firm in defence to deny Ireland a late win.

Epalahame Faiva scored twice for New Zealand and Patrick Tuipulotu and Lolagi Visinia also crossed. Simon Hickey finished with 11 points with the boot.

New Zealand took advantage when Ireland's Thomas Farrell was yellow-carded late in the first half, scoring twice while the centre was off the field which put New Zealand up 26-11.

Faiva's second minutes later made it 31-11 but Ireland scored the final 15 points off the match to set up a tense finish.

New Zealand booked a semifinal spot at the tournament for the sixth-straight time and will face England on Wednesday. Defending champions South Africa play Wales in the other semifinal.

New Zealand under-20s 31 (Epalahame Faiva 2, Patrick Tuipulotu, Lolagi Visinia tries; Simon Hickey 3 pens, con) Ireland under-20s 26 (Tom Farrell, Dan Leavy, Edward Byrne tries; Rory Scannell 3 pens, con). HT: 14-11.

- nzherald.co.nz

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