Hawke's Bay's New Zealand under-20s rugby halfback Sheridan Rangihuna was a relieved man in more ways than one yesterday.
"I've been in a losing team against Australia before so it was good to hang in there for this victory," Rangihuna said after the Baby Blacks pipped Australia 14-10 in their second pool game at the Junior World Championship in France.
The Napier Technical club player was in the 2011 New Zealand Secondary Schools team which lost 26-19 to their Aussie counterparts in Sydney.
"A few of the Aussie boys here today were in that Australia Schools side and it was good to catch up with them after the game," Rangihuna said.
He was also relieved a head gash which he collected while tackling rampant Aussie prop Oli Hoskins in the second half won't keep him out of Friday morning's pool decider against Ireland.
"It required four stitches but I'm still available for the Ireland game. We have to win that one to qualify for the semifinals," Rangihuna said, referring to the fact Ireland maintained their unbeaten run with a 46-3 win against Fiji yesterday.
"Today's win wasn't flash but we will take it," Rangihuna, who again provided quality distribution and support play, added.
His Tech clubmate and Magpies winger Penikolo Latu also started for the Baby Blacks and made the most of his limited opportunities on attack.
A superb 60 metre run by Otago winger Fa'asiu Fuatai down the left hand touchline, in which he beat three Australian tacklers, set up Auckland flanker Joseph Edwards for New Zealand's only try of the game, while first five-eighth Simon Hickey of Auckland kicked three penalties to give the Baby Blacks a 14-3 halftime lead.
The New Zealand forwards went off the boil in the third quarter and Australia hit back midway through the second half with a try to replacement outside back Luke Burton. This was converted by first five-eighth Reece Hodge who had kicked a first half penalty.
New Zealand held on in the final stages thanks to some staunch defence led by skipper and openside flanker Ardie Savea of Wellington.
The Hurricanes flanker pulled off a crucial turnover with Australia on attack deep inside New Zealand territory which ended the match.
Scorers: New Zealand 14 (Joseph Edwards, try; Simon Hickey 3 pens) Australia 10 (Luke Burton, try; Reece Hodge con, pen). HT: 14-3.