New Zealand Under-20's: 30 (Mason Emerson 2, Quentin Strange, Jordie Barrett tries; Barrett 2 con 2 pen) Australia Under-20's:10 (Moses Sorovi try; Mack Mason 1 con, 1pen) HT: 8-3
New Zealand have beaten Australia by 30-10 in the first of two under-20's internationals at Bond University, Gold Coast.
The series is a warm-up for the IRB Junior World Championships in England in June.
Defensive pressure and superior accuracy in an often scrappy encounter were the key ingredients in New Zealand's success.
Australia started brightly when centre Liam Jurd broke in the opening minute. New Zealand foiled the subsequent foray inside their 22 and opened the scoring after six minutes when second-five Jordie Barrett kicked a penalty.
Barrett had the chance to double New Zealand's lead in the 12th minute, but he missed an ambitious penalty shot from halfway.
First-Five Stephen Perofeta made the first clean break for the Kiwis. He surged to the Australian 22 and distributed to centre Sio Tomkinson who offloaded in a two-man tackle to wing Mason Emerson for the opening try.
Emerson would have a profound impact on the match. He scored the last try when Perofeta cross-kicked to his wing and he often proved elusive for the Australian defence which did well to hold New Zealand to 8-3 at halftime after absorbing four minutes of pressure inside their 22 close to the break.
Australian first-five Mack Mason proved to be a liability. His kicking game was awful and he was hassled into mistakes by a busy and aggressive New Zealand loose forward trio. Luke and Mitchell Jacobson's defensive intensity was a particularly encouraging feature of New Zealand's play.
New Zealand scored the first try in the second-half when halfback Sam Nock scampered into space and linked with Emerson who was hauled down a fraction short of the goal line. Lock Quentin Strange barged over from the next ruck.
Australia responded with a slick try in the 49th minute to halfback Moses Sorovi. After a series of quick passes wing Ah-Mu Tuimalealifano was released in space and he successfully drew the last Kiwi defender.
Reserve Prop Alex Fidow made a big impact for New Zealand. Three barnstorming charges in the 52nd minute dispatched Australia into retreat and Jordie Barrett eventually crashed over.
In the 62nd minute Australia only trailed 20-10 and had a kickable penalty. The penalty was reversed after prop Tyrel Lomax was yellow-carded for a high tackle off the ball.
Barrett kicked three more points in the 65th minute and New Zealand controlled territory for the remainder of the match feeding off Australian mistakes.
Loose-forwards Harley Fox and Angus Scott-Young and lock Ryan McCauley look like useful players for Australia. All three carried strongly and McCauley disrupted some of New Zealand's lineout ball. Fullback Jack Maddocks had some nice moments in a largely underwhelming backline.
New Zealand's most obvious strengths were ruck defence and feeding off turnovers.
The second test is at the same venue on Saturday.
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