New Zealand: 55 (Caleb Makene 2, Sean Stevenson, Sam Nock, Jonah Lowe, Mitchell Jacobson, TJ Va'a, Malo Tuitama, Hapakuki Moala-Liava'a tries; Jordie Barrett 4 con, Stephen Perofeta) Georgia: 0
New Zealand have opened their defense of the IRB Junior World Championships with a resounding 55-0 victory over Georgia. In the opening minute Chiefs fullback Sean Stevenson scored a try and that signalled a tough evening was in order for tournament debutants Georgia. Despite conditions deteriorating considerably in the second-half, when heavy rain lashed the AJ Bell Stadium surface, New Zealand maintained their momentum throughout scoring four tries in first-half and five in the second.
The only period of sustained defense New Zealand was subject to extended from the 57th minute to the 60th minute when they foiled a series of lineout drives and pedestrian pick and goes by Georgia, whose scrum was more resolute than their defense. Perhaps the pick of New Zealand's tries was scored by wing Jonah Lowe in the 29th minute. Second-five Jordie Barrett broke at halfway and jabbed a perfectly weighted left-foot kick forward for Jonah Lowe to gather and score.
Lowe's fellow winger Caleb Makene was involved in the scoring as well, dotting down twice. In the 31st minute he crossed for a particularly delightful try when Stevenson in traffic flicked a silky offload to the Napier BHS old boy. New Zealand's back-three caused Georgia constant hassles and the way they linked was a real positive in the Baby Blacks display.
Openside Mitchell Jacobson in his third year in the team had a busy game winning turnover ball and scoring a second-half try while TJ Va'a survived 80 minutes, a rare achievement in the last two years for the injury ravaged first-five. In the 54th minute he scored a try when he burrowed through a ruck near the goal line. New Zealand got plenty of impact from their bench. Hooker Asafo Aumua impressed with some strong carries and accurate lineout throwing.
Prop Sean Stoddard was a sturdy presence and Tuitama was full of running, nearly scoring a sensational 50m chip and chase try and later being rewarded when he supported a Stephen Perofeta break. Georgia had two players yellow-carded in the second-spell. Their best performers were lock Mikheil Babunashvili and openside Giorgi Tsutskiridze. In the other Pool A fixture Grand Slam Winners Wales were upset 26-25 by Ireland.
In Pool B Australia was shocked 15-10 by Scotland and England easily accounted for Italy 48-10. In Pool C France was stunned 24-15 Argentina and South Africa thrashed a gallant Japan 59-19.
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