A decent-sized crowd at the Harare Sports Ground was treated to another entertaining day of rugby with wins for pool leaders Samoa and Spain, as well as USA and Uruguay.
SAMOA 32-8 FIJI
Samoa made it two wins out of two in the World Rugby U20 Trophy following a comfortable 32-8 triumph over Pacific Island rivals Fiji.
The Fijians controlled the opening 10 minutes and took an 8-0 advantage through Selesitino Kalounivale’s converted try, but Samoa hit back and were level at the break via Avea Momoisea's effort.
Ramsey Tomokino’s men dominated the second period, scoring 24 unanswered points via TP Luteru, Laaloi Leilual and Faalelelei Ioane touchdowns and the accurate kicking of fly-half D’Angelo Leuila.
Both teams won their opening encounters and were therefore looking to build on those successes to put themselves in a strong position in the U20 Trophy.
However, it was Fiji who started the stronger and were ahead when Kitione Kamikamica broke off the back of the scrum and popped the ball up for centre Kalounivale to cross the whitewash.
Samoa responded as Momoisea drove over following a lineout but it was the Fijians that remained in the ascendency.
Augustine Mafoe was yellow carded late in the first period for a shoulder charge, but Fiji failed to take advantage and it was Samoa who went in front a few minutes into the second half.
Hooker Luteru was the one to bundle his way over, Leuila converting, before the fly-half extended their buffer with a penalty.
The Samoans were now firmly in control and they effectively put the game beyond doubt via a piece of magic from Leilual, who weaved his way to the line for a superb solo effort.
That made it 24-8 with a quarter of the match remaining, a deficit which forced Fiji to attack from deep. Mistakes therefore became prevalent and, after they knocked on inside their own 22, Samoa scored their fourth try.
This time, it was Ioane who touched from close range to secure their second victory of the competition and make them favourites to progress from Pool A.
URUGUAY 50-22 ZIMBABWE
Inaki Ormaechea, the younger brother of World Cup star Agustin, scored two early tries to help send Uruguay on their way to a first victory of the 2016 U20 Trophy following a comfortable 50-22 triumph over hosts Zimbabwe.
Los Teritos dominated the first half and went 36-6 in front with tries from Ormaechea, Martin Fitipaldo and Felipe Etcheverry, while they were also awarded a penalty try.
The Young Sables did briefly level matters through Aiden Burnett, but they were outclassed before the interval.
Zimbabwe showed plenty of pride after the break and managed to reduce the deficit via two Tarisai Mapfumo scores, but further efforts by Fitipaldo and Yamandu Arburuas eased Uruguay to victory.
Despite going down to Fiji in their opening encounter, the South American outfit were competitive and went close to producing a superb result.
That quality was evidently too much for Zimbabwe as the Uruguay forwards controlled the set-piece battle.
They went in front via a dominant lineout, a drive which saw Ormaechea cross the whitewash, before the African side did well to respond.
They constructed an excellent try where Takudzwa Gamanya, Sam Phiri and Mapfumo combined to send Burnett over the line.
Burnett then broke through the heart of the opposition rearguard as the Young Sables continued to look threatening from open play, but Uruguay’s pack soon regained a stranglehold on proceedings.
Ormaechea duly took advantage of another superb maul to touch down from close range before referee Pablo Deluca awarded a penalty try after a Los Teritos’ scrum was illegally halted by the hosts.
However, it was not all about forward power for the South Americans when they put together the move of the match to effectively take the game out of Zimbabwe’s grasp.
Santiago Arata made the initial incursion from inside his own 22 before the scrum-half passed to the excellent Etcheverry. The fly-half then drew the final defender and off-loaded to Fitipaldo who had the simple task of touching down unopposed.
It soon got worse for the Young Sables when Etcheverry scampered over to open up a 30-point gap just before half-time.
Having lost heavily in their opening match, it appeared a long way back for the African outfit but they displayed plenty of spirit.
Well-taken efforts by Mapfumo gave Zimbabwe hope entering the final 10 minutes, but Uruguay secured a comfortable win through Fitipaldo’s second score and Arburuas’ late try.
SPAIN 40-22 NAMIBIA
Spain continue to impress at their debut World Rugby U20 Trophy tournament with a bonus-point win against Namibia.
For the second match running, the rolling maul proved a profitable source of points for Spain, who, like Namibia, also showed good touches whenever the ball went through the hands.
An evenly-contested first half produced two tries apiece with Spain leading 16-14, but Spain’s forward power told in the third quarter as they rumbled over for a couple of tries. Namibia responded with a try for Cliven Loubser but Spain had the final word when they scored again from a lineout drive with time almost up.
Both teams went into the game buoyed by wins on day one but, after a scrappy opening, it was Namibia who drew first blood.
Winger Unomasa Kavita set the game alight on 13 minutes when he sped down the right flank, inches from the touchline, and cut back inside to link up with centre Alastair Miller, who wrong-footed the final defender before strolling over.
Six minutes later, Spain full-back Guillermo Dominguez hit the line at pace from 20 metres out and ran in unopposed. Unfortunately, his involvement in the game was ended shortly afterwards after he collided in mid-air with Kavita while competing for a high ball and was stretchered off.
Spain shook off the disappointment of losing one of their main attacking threats by scoring the next try of the game. The ever-dangerous Jordi Jorba Jorge stepped off his left wing and showed good upper body strength to bounce off a couple of defenders before being brought to ground two metres out. Spain got numbers to the breakdown quickly to secure possession and hooker Tommy Vaisset picked up at the base and dived over.
Namibian captain Cameron Langenhoven responded with a brilliant 30-metre run down the blindside, before play was spread right to Stiaan van der Merwe and Namibia’s match-winning hero against USA in round one dummied inside the covering defence to finish off another well-taken try.
Spain enjoyed the upper hand in the third quarter and scored two tries from driven lineouts through Luis Canti and Baptiste Bougeard. As the match drew to a close, Namibia piled on the pressure with a multi-phase attack inside the opposition 22 and. with the Spanish defence stretched one way and then the other, fly-half Loubser sliced through a gap to score Namibia’s third try.
With the conversion on target, Namibia were back to within eight points but Spain closed the game out when Canti dotted down for his second in the last play from another ruthlessly efficient lineout drive.
USA 32-12 HONG KONG
USA captain Hanco Germishuys (pictured) was in the thick of the action for the second game running, adding to his hat-trick of tries in round one with a brace against a Hong Kong side still looking for their first win in 10 outings at the U20 Trophy.
The number eight also picked up a yellow card in a 32-12 victory for the Junior All-Americans that was only sealed with two tries in the final quarter.
After being blown away in the first half an hour against Samoa in their opening game, Hong Kong knew it was imperative to get off to a good start. But it was the Junior all-Americans who took the lead despite being down to 14 men when Devin Lim was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Roddy Giles.
Lim’s centre partner, Brian Hannon, broke through and crossed halfway before finding Travis Heer on his shoulder. Heer was left with a clear run to the line and Ben Cima added the extras.
Hong Kong eventually got a foothold in the game when hard-working flanker Jonathan Healy burrowed his way over from close range after Giles had opted to kick a penalty to the corner instead of going for goal. Giles’ conversion cannoned back off the upright.
Superb handling from USA led to the next try of the game. The Junior All-Americans produced offload after offload with the impressive Malon Al-Jiboori supplying the telling pass for Germishuys to rampage his way over the try-line.
Germishuys' joy turned to despair, however, when the referee penalised his side six times in a row and the South African-born player paid the price with a yellow card a minute before the interval.
Hong Kong were unable to find a way over the line in his absence but they did score on 57 minutes to put themselves right back in the game, at 16-12 down, when centre Liam Owens weaved his way through the traffic inside the USA 22 for a well-taken try.
Germishuys took it upon himself to make sure there wasn’t a repeat of Tuesday’s late heartache against Namibia with a try from a quickly taken tap penalty five metres out.
Al-Jiboori, who has a touch of rising England star Maro Itoje about him, concluded the scoring after Hong Kong failed to deal with an up and under on halfway. The bouncing ball fell in the direction of replacement prop, Mason Pederson, who expertly drew his man and passed to Al-Jiboori who had plenty of gas left in the tank to finish from 25 metres.
Photo credit: Marie-Louise van der Sandt