New Zealand U20s 97 (Leicester Faingaanuku 2, Ricky Jackson, Tom Christie, Tom Florence, Kaleb Trask, penalty try, Harry Plummer, Bailyn Sullivan, Tanielu Tele'a, Sione Asi, Carlos Price, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, Will Tremain, Billy Proctor tries; Harry Plummer 9 con; Kaleb Trask con; Ciarahn Matoe con) beat Tonga U20s 0 HT: 42-0
The New Zealand U20s made a statement on the Gold Coast tonight.
In a completely dominant performance, they beat the Tonga U20s 97-0 in their first match of three of the Oceania U20 tournament.
The New Zealand side, with an array of recent First XV players featured on College Sport Media over the past couple of years on board, ran in 15 unanswered tries, with 13 different try-scorers.
New Zealand was dominant throughout, the forwards laying a sound platform from the get-go in both set-pieces and at the breakdowns and the backs running rampant, particularly in the second half.
First five-eighth Harry Plummer was given an armchair ride and he showed his full bag of tricks with his kicking and running games. The whole team stood out, but rangy blindside flanker Tom Florence was our forwards Player of the Match and Plummer the best of the backs.
Playing with the aid of a strong wind in the first half, New Zealand scored seven first-half tries and led 42-0 at the break.
A dominant scrum, ownership of the breakdowns and some swift running by all the backs completely shut Tonga out of the game in the first 40 minutes.
Early field position led to centre Billy Proctor putting left-wing Leicester Faingaanuku away for the first try after 90 seconds. First five-eighth Harry Plummer converted from out wide for a 7-0 lead.
Hooker Ricky Jackson crossed from a clinical lineout drive to score their second try to make it 12-0.
A flowing period of phase play up into the 22 led to an overlap out wide and their third try to captain and openside flanker Tom Christie. Plummer added the extras for a 19-0 lead.
A fourth try went begging - twice. First, Jackson went close to scoring his second from another lineout drive. Second, No. 8 Devan Flanders linked up with halfback Carlos Price but the latter knocked on over the line.
Tonga’s reprieve was short-lived, New Zealand running back the next clearing kick and blindside flanker Tom Florence galloping through to score their fourth try.
Plummer darted from an attacking lineout and Fullback Kaleb Trask shot through some weak defence to score their next try and a 33-0 lead.
Left-wing Faingaanuku crossed for his double just before halftime - the sweetest try of the first spell. Plummer ran hard at the advantage line from a rock-steady scrum platform 40 metres out. Plummer offloaded in the tackle to Trask who dabbed through a kick and the former Nelson College wing flew through to score untroubled. Plummer’s sideline conversion made it 35-0.
Tighthead prop Kaliopasi Uluilakepa went beastmode in a scrum, winning a penalty and a scrum turnover. No. 8 Devan Flanders went for a pushover try and was repelled, but a penalty try was awarded.
Things went from bad to worse for Tonga, conceding a yellow card for a blatant offside and were lucky not to concede another try as New Zealand knocked on and went into halftime leading 42-0.
Lock John Akau'ola-Laula soared high and won the second half kick-off and New Zealand was almost in again from a resultant scrum and grubber kick by Plummer. Tonga escaped but right-wing Bailyn Sullivan intercepted a pass and went close again.
Tonga failed to clear adequately and this time left-wing Faingaanuku went close to barging over for his hat-trick. From the next ruck, Plummer made a cheeky dab at the corner flag and scored the first try of the second half – bringing up the half-century in the process.
Breaks by centre Proctor and Plummer and quick recycling led to the next try to right wing Sullivan. Plummer converted and it was now 59-0.
Second five-eighth Tanielu Tele'a scored their next try, cutting through up the middle to score under the posts.
Not to be outdone, the forwards picked and drove for six phases and replacement prop Sione Asi barged over the chalk. Plummer’s conversion made it 73-0 with 12 minutes remaining.
Proctor and Price combined to score the next try, followed by replacement flanker Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa in the same corner with fullback Kaleb Trask adding the extras.
The ball was run back from the kick-off and the other replacement flanker, Will Tremain, scored next. Replacement pivot kicked ahead for centre Proctor to regather the bounce and he scored the final try of the evening.
The New Zealand U20s play Fiji on Tuesday night and then Australia next Saturday in the likely decider of the Oceania Championship.
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