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England win #JWC2014, New Zealand finish third

NZR

    20 Jun 2014     NZR

The hard-fought victory extends England's hold on the trophy, which they won last year in France.

Hosts New Zealand finished the tournament on a high by beating Ireland to third place, while Australia also finished strongly to edge France for fifth.

Wales beat Samoa to seventh, Argentina overcame Scotland to finish ninth and Italy edged Fiji 22-17 to ensure that they will remain in the draw for the competition they are due to host in 2015. As the 12th-placed finishers Fiji will play the Junior World Rugby Trophy in 2015.

Final: England 21-20 South Africa

It took 20 minutes for the first try of the final, but when it came it was worth waiting for. England knocked on and SA captain Handre Pollard spotted a gap in the defence with a perfectly weighted chip. Jesse Kriel won the race to the ball and had an easy run to the line.

England responded with a long-range penalty attempt from Aaron Morris and hit the front for the first time on the stroke of half-time when Nathan Earle, an IRB Junior Player of the Year nominee, went over in the right corner to give his side an 11-10 lead at the break.

The two sides traded penalties in the 10 minute period after the break, before replacement back row Joel Conlon dropped down on the ball after a strong drive from the England forwards to make it 21-13.

Pollard gathered his troops together under the posts and after weathering another period of England pressure it was the Junior Boks who hit back with some slick hands down the left wing,
Duhan van der Merwe breaking a tackle to send Kriel over for his second try, which galvanised the South Africans and their bellowing support.

They came close to scoring another try within minutes after a break by the other Kriel twin on the park, Dan, but England's defence held firm.

England were barely able to get out of their own half in the final quarter but held wave after wave of South African attack. Pollard missed with a drop goal attempt and when the final whistle blew England celebrated a successful title defence.

Third place play-off: Ireland 23-45 New Zealand

The pre-match prediction may have been for hosts New Zealand to run up a big score in the third place play-off against Ireland, but no-one had clearly told the men in green who went in at half-time with a deserved 23-21 advantage.

IRB Junior Player of the Year nominee Tevita had scored two and created one for Richard Mo'unga in the first half, only for a penalty try and another from prop Oisin Heffernan to edge the Irish ahead to the surprise of the Eden Park crowd.

Ireland continued to frustrate their hosts in the second half but New Zealand's persistent pressure was rewarded when second row James Tucker touched down after 50 minutes. Some slick passing from the backs then saw Mitchell Drummond and Mo'unga over to pull clear on the scoreboard.

Not to be outdone flanker Lachlan Boshier than popped up on the wing to finish off another slick handling move in the corner and scored the final points of New Zealand's JWC 2014 campaign on home soil.

Fifth place play-off: France 27-34 Australia

France came out of the blocks in lightning quick fashion with Lucas Blanc touching down inside the opening minute and that lead quickly grew to 17-0 after fellow wing Kylan Hamdaoui touched down and Baptiste Serin converted both from out wide and added a penalty.

But just as France were threatening to overwhelm Australia their captain Sean McMahon stepped up with two tries in quick succession, shrugging off five defenders for his first and the second an effort from closer range. However, an intercept by Xavier Mignot saw him run in from near halfway made it 24-14 to France at half-time.

Andrew Kellaway scored the first points of the second half with his ninth try of JWC 2014 to set a new record for the most tries in a single tournament. A drop goal from Brandon Fajardo improved France's advantage, but Kellaway crossed again to equal the overall JWC try record.

Australia continued to exert pressure on France and, after Jack Payne knocked on a loose ball with the line within reach, they got the try that put them ahead for the first time in the match, hooker Harry Scoble powering over after a number of pick and goes.

Seventh place play-off: Wales 20-3 Samoa

Wales coach Byron Hayward had said before kick-off he wanted his team to "finish off on a real positive" and there got the early try they sought after only six minutes through full back Dafydd Howells.

William Talataina Mu's penalty kept Samoa in the hunt in the first half, which ended with Wales leading 13-3 after another try from number 8 James Benjamin, who had been drafted into the starting line-up after an injury to Ben Roach in training on Thursday.

The score remained that way until after the hour mark. Samoa had Ieremia Mataena sin-binned and Wales pounced with Benjamin claiming his second try of the match to make certain of seventh place for the 2013 runners-up.

Ninth place play-off: Argentina 41-21 Scotland

Argentina looked to be in control of the match at half-time after racing into a 23-0 lead after 34 minutes with tries from forwards Tomas Lezana and Santiago Montagner. However, Scotland grabbed a try back before the break through number 8 Magnus Bradbury.

Scotland continued their recovery after the break with Shaun MacDonald and, after another Fernandez penalty, Gavin Lowe converted his own try to cut the deficit to 26-21 and the unlikely comeback seemed to be within touching distance for the Celts.

It wasn't to be though as Fernandez intercepted in his own 22 and raced away to score. That killed off any Scottish hopes and instead it was Argentina who finished with a flourish, Fernandez finishing with 26 points to return to the top of the all-time JWC point scoring table despite not converting Emiliano Boffelli's late try.

11th place play-off: Fiji 17-22 Italy

Fiji's fate was already sealed regardless of the result against Italy and will play in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy next year, but the Azzurini were determined to ensure they retained their place at JWC 2015 by right and not just as the host nation.

Scrum half Simone Parisotto darted over for Italy's first try after 15 minutes and number 8 Matteo Cornelli added another after a strong Italian scrum to ensure his side went in with a 12-3 advantage, Fiji's only answer a penalty from Dion Fraser.

Fiji started the second half the brighter and scored their only try when Josese Kurukava intercepted and ran 70 metres to dot down. Italy hit back with tries from Adriano Daniele and Gabriele Di Giulio, but could have wrapped the match up earlier had they not been wasteful with scoring opportunties.

The Fijians bid farewell to the Junior World Championship stage though with the final try of the match at QBE Stadium through their impressive flanker Vasikali Mudu. They will now look to win the Trophy next year to secure an immediate return to the elite tier.

Final standings
1. England
2. South Africa
3. New Zealand
4. Ireland
5. Australia
6. France
7. Wales
8. Samoa
9. Argentina
10. Scotland
11. Italy
12. Fiji - relegated to IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy