New Zealand: 18 (Sam Nock, Sean Stevenson tries; Jordie Barrett 2 pen, 1 con) Wales: 17 (Joe Thomas try; Daniel Jones 4 pen)
For the first time New Zealand has missed the semi-finals of the World Rugby U20 Championships. Despite beating Grand Slam winners Wales in their final pool game, New Zealand is playing off for consolation prizes.
England (Pool A), Ireland (Pool B) and Argentina (Pool C) topped their respective groups unbeaten while South Africa was the highest ranked second place finisher earning 11 points in Pool C, one more than New Zealand.
New Zealand only led Wales for a minute, but did enough to win.
In the 77th minute New Zealand was down 17-15 when reserve prop Alex Fidow burst 25-metres into the Welsh 22. Eight rucks later Wales was caught offside and conceded a penalty. From the advantage second-five Jordie Barrett cross-kicked towards the wing where Sean Stevenson attempted to out leap his marker for the try. Welsh wing Tom Williams deliberately knocked the ball into touch and was yellow carded. No penalty try was given, but Barrett duly slotted the goal from in front 20-meters out to give New Zealand a narrow victory and consign Wales to their second solitary point defeat of the tournament.
Earlier Wales was quick to gain forward ascendency in the greasy conditions. In the third minute first-five Daniel Jones kicked the opening penalty and in the 8th minute he grubbed through for wing Joe Thomas to chase and score a try.
Rattled New Zealand mistakes piled up and Jones kicked a second penalty to make it 11-0 in the 12th minute.
New Zealand pilfered the kick-off and finally built some pressure. In the 14th minute wing Jonah Lowe lost the ball narrowly short of the line. Breaks by No.8 Marino Mikaele Tu'u and Stevenson resulted in no profit, but when the latter slipped through in the 26th minute, Barrett was able to put New Zealand on the scoreboard with a penalty.
Halfback Sam Nock was able to engineer a vital try for the Kiwis just before halftime. Wales was penalised after a five-meter scrum and instead of shooting for goal, Nock tapped quickly and caught the Welsh offside. Lock Seb Davies was sin-binned and another penalty was conceded by Wales. New Zealand opted for a scrum and Nock darted over. Barrett converted and it was 14-10 at the break.
In the 48th minute Barrett was yellow carded for a no-arms off the ball tackle and Jones kicked Wales 17-10 ahead. Despite the numerical disadvantage New Zealand monopolised possession in the Welsh 22, but was unable to breach the defense until the 57th minute when Stevenson dived over. Barrett returned in time to take the conversion, but sprayed an easy kick wide of the target.
Wales was content to play for territory, but lost the assured Jones in the 68th minute which inhibited their ability to do that effectively, despite demolishing New Zealand's scrum.
Despite New Zealand's scrum woes Fidow's late charge ironically won New Zealand the game.
New Zealand's most resolute forwards were locks Quentin Strange and Hamish Dalzell who won a pile of lineout ball and were busy in the tight exchanges. Despite conceding some needless penalties, Jacobson was a pest and Mikaele Tu'u carried with gusto. In the backs Stevenson was a class above everybody else in the game.
For Wales tighthead Dillon Lewis and blindside Tom Phillips were outstanding and Jones is a well organised player.
South Africa had to beat France with a four try bonus point to guarantee their progression into the final four. After half an hour that prospect looked unlikely when the Junior Springboks trailed by 24-13. France played some inspired rugby and tries were scored by Mathieu Tanguy, Romain Buros and Michael Simutoga. Outstanding blindside Zain Davids scored pulled a try back for South Africa in the 33rd minute to reduce the deficit to six at the break.
Despite a wobbly lineout, South Africa controlled the second-half as French discipline wavered. Wing Jan van der Merwe scored a brilliant individual try to nudge South Africa ahead 25-24. In the 61st minute New Zealand's fate was sealed. Following a powerful scrum, first-five Manie Libbok sailed through a hole and dashed 20-metres to score South Africa's fourth try. In the 65th minute illusive fullback and man of the match Curwin Bosch collected a Jt Jackson kick to give South Africa their fourth consecutive victory over France in tournament history.
The final score was 40-31 to South Africa.
In the semi-finals tournament hosts England tackle South Africa in a replay of the 2014 decider. Ireland and Argentina clash on the opposite side of the draw.
New Zealand will play Australia in a playoff for 5 v 8.
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