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Strong start by NZ U-20s over Fiji

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Lynn McConnell     28 Apr 2017     Getty Images

Scoring eight tries without answer, they were backed by a strong goal-kicking performance by first five-eighths Tiaan Falcon who landed five conversions and three penalty goals for 19 points.

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Fiji paid the price for early untidiness, especially at the restarts following the two opening penalty goals kicked by Falcon. That allowed the New Zealanders to work the blindside to good effect with left wing Jona Nareki and centre Tamati Tua working well together.

It was after Tua latched onto an infield kick that they went close to scoring in the right corner but from the clearance by Fiji, New Zealand won the lineout through lock Jacob Pierce and he found flanker Dalton Papalii, who launched a drive for the line.

He was stopped just short of the line but prop Ryan Coxon picked the ball up and drover in the 15th minute for the opening try.

Ten minutes later more Fijian indiscipline allowed a penalty kick to be put into the Fiji 22m area. Mounting a rolling maul, the pack rumbled towards the goal-line and while it was halted the ball was cleared quickly and halfback Kemara Parapara threw a long pass for second five-eighths Orbyn Leger scored under the posts.

Fiji looked to make a surge but turned the ball over when prop Luke Tagi lost the ball and it was moved by the New Zealand Under-20s with fullback Will Jordan making a superb break down the sideline. The ball was moved across the line to the left where Nareki was unlucky not to have been awarded the try. However, the referee was playing advantage and the Fijians lost a player to the sin-bin.



It was a case of winning the scrum and moving the ball to the right where Jordan crossed with ease to gain reward for his break earlier in the move.

Just before half-time a strong breakout took play to the line and while the ball was turned over, a poor clearing kick was tidied by Falcon and then Jacobson and Papalii went about their work with Papalii crossing in the right corner.

Fiji's problems continued into the second half when pinned from the re-start on their own line and with the New Zealand defence forcing them back over the goal-line a scrum resulted in good ball and Jordan coming into the line was able to cross.

A penalty for a high tackle was conceded by the Fijians and the New Zealanders cleared the ball downfield into the wind, won the lineout and fed right wing Tima Faingaanuku into the backline. His strong run carried into the 22m are and with the ball spun through the line Jordan was up to cross for his third, seven minutes into the half.

New Zealand introduced bench players from around the 50-minute mark and the play lost its shape a little until the players settled. Fiji spent some time in the New Zealand 22m area but good defence kept them out and their solitary reward was a penalty goal.

And getting back down field, New Zealand opted for a scrum at a penalty just out from the Fijian line and after halfback Carlos Price went close in a dab for the line, flanker Tom Christie capped a good night with the try and then scored a second on fulltime.

Scorers: New Zealand Under-20 63 (Ryan Coxon, Orbyn Leger, Will Jordan 3, Dalton Papalii, Tom Christie 2 tries; Tiaan Falcon 5 con, 3 pen; Ciarahn Matoe 2 con) Fiji Under-20 3 (Filiomoni Botitu pen). HT: 35-0