Rugby: Under-20s finish fourth

South Africa celebrate a try in their 41-34 win over the New Zealand under-20 rugby team. Photo / Martin Seras Lima -
South Africa celebrate a try in their 41-34 win over the New Zealand under-20 rugby team. Photo / Martin Seras Lima -

The New Zealand under-20s rugby team have recorded their worst ever finish at the IRB Junior World Championship after losing the third and fourth playoff to South Africa this morning.

The four time winners led 21-0 at one point but fell to the defending champions 41-34 after two players were yellow-carded in the second half.

The Baby Boks turned around a 26-21 halftime deficit to hand New Zealand their first ever back-to-back defeat.

Left wing Lolagi Visinia scored twice in the opening 12 minutes before lock Joseph Edwards crashed over to give New Zealand a 21-0 lead midway through the first half.

South Africa responded with a tries to right wing Luther Obi and tight-head prop Luan de Bruin before Seabelo Senatla snatched an intercept and ran 60 metres to draw the scores level with only minutes to play in the first half. However fullback Joseph Webber scored on the stroke of halftime to give the New Zealand team the lead 26-21 as the siren sounded.

New Zealand opened the scoring in the second half through a Simon Hickey penalty, but the South Africans had the better of the possession stakes and converted it into points when the opportunity presented. Yellow cards to Jordan Manihera and Kalafi Pongi within eight minutes of each other gave the Baby Boks the numbers advantage they needed to put the game beyond reach of the New Zealand team.

Tries to Ruan Steenkamp, replacement Kwagga Smith, and halfback Stefan Ungerer left New Zealand trailing 41-29 with three minutes to play. Jordan Manihera crossed in the 77th minute, but it was too late.

England were crowned champions for the first time after defeating Wales 23-15.

New Zealand 34 (Tries: Lolagi Visinia 2 tries, Joseph Edwards, Joseph Webber, Jordan Manihera. Simon Hickey 3 con, 1 pen) lost to South Africa 41 (Tries: Luther Obi, Luan de Bruin, Seabelo Senatla, Ruan Steenkamp, Kwagga Smith, Stefan Ungerer. Handre Pollard 4 con, 1 pen).

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