Rugby: Baby Blacks crash out

By Cameron McMillan

The New Zealand under-20 rugby team perform the haka ahead of their semifinal clash with England. Photo Martin Seras Lima/IRB.com
The New Zealand under-20 rugby team perform the haka ahead of their semifinal clash with England. Photo Martin Seras Lima/IRB.com

The New Zealand under-20 rugby team have failed to make the Junior World Championship final for the first time after falling 33-21 to England in their semifinal this morning (NZT).

The four-time champions couldn't recover from a poor first half when they trailed 20-8 in Vannes, France. They got back to 23-21 with seven minutes remaining but conceded a controversial try and then a late penalty to crash out of the tournament.

England will face Wales in Monday's final after the Welsh stunned defending champions South Africa 18-17 in the earlier semifinal with a match-winning try in the final minute.

New Zealand won the first four tournaments before losing to South Africa in last year's final and the two countries will now meet in the third and fourth playoff.

The match started well for New Zealand when hooker Epalahame Faiva finished off a well-worked try to dive over in the corner, his third of the tournament, but England dominated the rest of the first half.

Skipper Jack Clifford set up his side's opening try with a strong solo run before finding flanker Matt Hankin on his inside to dive under the posts and England heaped more misery on New Zealand when Anthony Watson intercepted a Jason Emery pass to run 50m to score in the 37th minute.

A Simon Hickey penalty right on halftime limited the damage but New Zealand still went into the break trailing by 12 points.

A determined New Zealand side showed more fight at the start of the second half but England's defence held strong as both teams traded penalties.

Emery finally broke the English defensive line in the 60th minute and a Jade Te Rure sideline conversion made it 23-18. A Te Rure penalty with seven minutes remaining cut England's lead to two before the English closed out the game with a dubious third try.
Video replays were unclear but the TMO awarded the try denying the game a thrilling finish.

Earlier a last-minute try saw Wales book a spot in the final for the first time in the tournament's history with an 18-17 win over South Africa.

South Africa held a 17-11 lead with five minutes remaining before Ashley Evans dived over for the second Welsh try of the game before Sam Davies calmly slotted the winning conversion.

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