Fiji under-20s captain Pat Tuidraki believes Georgia are now favourites to claim their first World Rugby U20 Trophy title after seeing his side lose 30-13 to the east Europeans.
Georgia now top Pool A with nine points with Fiji and Uruguay on five while hosts Portugal have yet to register a point after losing 37-26 to Los Teritos on match day two at the CAR Rugby do Jamor ground in Lisbon.
The Junior Lelos’ power-based game was too much for the Fijians who were starved of quick ball for much of the match, and afterwards Tuidraki paid tribute to Fiji’s opponents.
“Georgia came out firing and did their job well today,” he said. “After this performance I would make them favourites to win the Trophy and gain promotion to the Championship. I hope we can meet again soon at the top level.”
A Davit Gulitashvili drop goal had got Georgia off the mark after an early Fiji penalty, while the Junior Lelos' tries were scored either side of the break by second-row Otar Giorgadze and winger Anzor Sichinava. Georgia fly-half Rezi Jintchvelashvili contributed 17 of his side’s points through five penalties and a conversion.
The winner of the Fiji-Uruguay match on day three can still overhaul Georgia and qualify for the final as winners of Pool A if the Junior Lelos slip to defeat against Portugal.
Arata treble sinks Portugal
Uruguay put themselves back in contention after a poor showing against Georgia on the opening day with a much more disciplined performance against Portugal.
In 18-year-old scrum-half Santiago Arata, Uruguay appear to have unearthed a star who could find himself playing at the Rugby World Cup later this year if he can maintain the same level of performance on display against Portugal.
Openside flanker Leandro Sgeredo scored Los Teritos' first try before Arata bagged himself a hat-trick, scoring after 21, 42 and 73 minutes. Meanwhile, half-back partner Martin Secco kicked 17 points for a Los Teritos side that always had enough in reserve to repel the Portuguese.
João Leitão kicked 11 points for the home side with centre José Cabral, winger João Vaz Antunes and number eight Pedro Rosa accounting for their three tries.
“We played poorly and made too many mistakes against a team that was better than us on the day,” lamented Portugal under-20 head coach João Pedro Varela. “We failed to be consistent which has to be our goal when playing at this level.”
Canada and Tonga to contest top spot
Canada made it two wins from two as they defeated Hong Kong 24-15 at the Estadio Universitario to set up Wednesday’s winner-takes-all clash with Tonga.
The North Americans raced into a 15-0 lead inside the first quarter but Hong Kong responded well and the sides were fairly evenly matched for the remainder of the game.
“Hong Kong are a strong team and they made us dig deep,” said Canada U20 head coach Jeff Williams.
On a scorching hot day in the Portuguese capital, Phil Berna and Lucas Rumball scored tries for Canada while Dylan Horgan added eight points and Guiseppe du Toit kicked two penalties.
“Taking points when they are on offer and keeping the scoreboard ticking has been critical for our success and epitomises tournament style rugby,” du Toit said.
“Lots of credit goes to our forwards who have given the backs a stable platform from the base of the scrum. The overall athleticism from the team and leadership from the senior players have combined exceptionally well on and off the field as both confidence and team morale are very high.”
In the last match of the day, Namibia succumbed to a powerful, fast-paced display from 2014 runners-up Tonga.
The Africans competed well for the first 40 minutes and only trailed 18-11 at the break after a try from number eight Christo van der Merwe and two penalties from the boot of fly-half Reinold Benade.
But Tonga turned on the style in the second half to score six tries, two of them by number eight Sione Vailanu, as they racked up 27 points without reply.
Captain Bill Fukofuka and coach Lueli Lafoe both felt "very happy about the result and for the boys, as this was a great game", pointing towards a period of "20 minutes with lows and highs" and "some mistakes" as things they would like to improve on in the deciding Pool B match against Canada.
Pool A – CAR Rugby do Jamor
May 16: Uruguay 37-26 Portugal
May 16: Fiji 13-30 Georgia
May 12: Uruguay 12-46 Georgia
May 12: Fiji 34-19 Portugal
Pool B – Estadio Universitario de Lisboa
May 16: Canada 24-15 Hong Kong
May 16: Tonga 45-11 Namibia
May 12: Canada 35-20 Namibia
May 12: Tonga 35-16 Hong Kong
Photo credits: João Peleteiro/World Rugby (main) and Luís Cabelo/World Rugby (inset)
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