Georgia created a piece of history on Sunday by winning the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2015 final with convincing 49-24 victory over Canada in Portugal, earning the Junior Lelos promotion the U20 Championship in 2016.
Canada went into the game at the Estadio Universitario with only one change from the starting XV that had beaten Tonga to reach a second Trophy final in three years, Reegan O'Gorman forced out on the morning of the match.
But the Canadians were second-best for large periods of the game against a Georgian outfit that demonstrated their ability to be clinical in the tight as well as the loose.
Canada’s malfunctioning lineout was a cause for concern throughout whereas Georgia excelled in this area and used the steady platform provided to create their first two tries.
Having gone close to breaching Canada’s line several times Georgia finally turned their dominance into points when second-row Mikheil Babunashvili rumbled over from a catch and drive after 15 minutes. Tight-head prop Giorgi Melikidze scored in almost identical fashion 10 minutes later and this time Rezi Jintchvelashvili made no mistake with the conversion for a 12-0 lead.
Winger Giorgi Kveseladze overcame the disappointment of having a try chalked off for offside by crossing for a legitimate score four minutes later as the one-way traffic continued. Replacement forward Tomike Zoidze was next to get in on the act and Jintchvelashvili added the conversion for a 24-0 lead.
Canada could have few complaints about the scoreline having turned in an error-strewn performance, but they managed to get a foothold in the game when they scored straight from the kick-off. A rare moment of miscommunication in the Georgian ranks allowed Canada to win possession and captain Lucas Rumball dived over in the corner for a try to make it 24-7 at half-time.
Jintchvelashvili and Dylan Horgan traded penalties at the start of he second half before Georgia added two more tries in as many minutes to effectively kill the game off as a contest.
Impressive full-back Irakli Svanidze was the first to cross after taking a pass from winger Anzor Sichinava, before Kveseladze grabbed his second of the game after the Junior Lelos returned a poor clearance kick with interest.
Canada’s Luke Bradley refused to accept defeat though and the hard-running number eight touched down twice either side of a lovely try from fly-half Jintchvelashvili to give the scoreline a more respectable look at 46-24.
But Jintchvelashvili capped a fine display with a late penalty to round off the scoring and a memorable tournament for the Junior Lelos who can now look forward to playing alongside the likes of New Zealand, England and South Africa in the elite World Rugby U20 Championship next year.
Georgia under-20 coach Ilia Maisuradze couldn't wipe the smile off his face afterwards. “We have put in so many hours of hard work together over the last year and it is wonderful that all of that we’ve been rewarded with this win. I’d like to thank all of the boys for playing to their potential and achieving the maximum that they could achieve.”
Canada captain Rumball added: “I thought we had a great first three games but we didn’t get the result we wanted in the last one. We started off slowly and only picked up our game at the end of the first half and if you do that in a tournament like this you are done for. But this puts us in a good spot for next year, for sure, there will be a lot of guys returning and we’ve just got to take it as it is and learn from our mistakes.”
Uruguay 44-43 Tonga
Tonga and Uruguay served up a feast of tries in a third place play-off that was a truly compelling test of styles.
Uruguay, the smaller of the two sides, had the courage, speed and flair to keep up with the intensity and physicality of the Tongans, coming back from 17-6 down at the end of the first quarter to win by the slenderest of margins.
Tonga scored three times in the opening quarter through Patelesio Onene, Semisi Tei and Feliuaki Halaifonua with Uruguay’s points coming from the boot of Felipe Etcheverry.
Eventually Los Teritos started to find gaps in the Tongan defence and they were rewarded with two tries, the second a brilliant solo effort from scrum-half Santiago Arata, to take a 20-17 half-time lead.
Tonga made a positive start to the second half with a try from number eight Sione Vailanu a minute after the restart and the tries kept on coming thereafter, Semisi Mahe and captain Bill Fukofuka going over for the Islanders with prop Facundo Gattas and number eight Manuel Diana replying for Los Teritos.
Captain Facundo Klappenbach finished off a well-worked move in the 67th minute to finally put a bit of daylight between the teams. Oneone’s second try proved to be merely a consolation as the final whistle sounded straight after the successful conversion.
Fiji 36-24 Namibia
Fiji put the disappointment of back-to-back defeats to Georgia and Uruguay behind them to claim fifth place at the expense of a Namibian side who were more than a match for the Islanders for a good hour at the CAR Rugby do Jamor.
Namibia led 11-5 as the first half drew to a close but a two-try salvo in double quick time ensured it was Fiji - top seeds after being relegated from the U20 Championship last year - who held a six-point advantage at half-time. Centre Kaveni Dabenaise's score and Filipo Daugunu's conversion edged the Islanders in front in the 39th minute before fly-half Seremaia Turagabeci spun out of an attempted tackle from his opposite number to touch down for a 17-11 lead.
Undeterred, Namibia fought back with the first score of the second half, prop Hans Breedt rumbling over to reduce the gap to a single point. A penalty from Henrique Olivier, while Fiji had a man in the sin-bin, put Namibia ahead 19-17, but the riposte from Fiji was devastating with three tries between the 63rd and 71st minutes turning the game on its head.
Enjoying the sun on their backs and showing the sort of flair they are renowned for, Fiji scored their fourth try when Seveci Nakanailagi finished well in the corner and he was quickly followed over the line by Patrick Beramaisu, who rounded off a superb length-of-the-field, before Jone Sevuya grabbed try number six. Namibia scrum-half Damian Stevens scored a late consolation.
"Fifth place wasn't what we aimed for, we wanted to do better than that, but we're still happy with today's victory," said Fiji captain Serupepeli Momo.
Portugal 47-21 Hong Kong
Hosts Portugal finished in seventh place after defeating a depleted yet determined Hong Kong squad at the CAR Rugby do Jamor in the day's opening match.
After racing to a 19-point lead, courtesy of three tries, one from winger João Vaz Antunes and two from number eight Pedro Rosa, the latter a superb 60-metre solo run after an interception, the Portuguese faced 20 minutes of intense pressure from Hong Kong, led by winger Hugo Stiles and captain Raef Morrison, the team's two try scorers in what was a closely-fought first half.
Leading 22-14 at the break, the Portuguese stretched their lead thanks to a João Leitão penalty and a Diogo Ferreira try, but the Hong Kong youngsters kept fighting and replied with a try of their own, scored by Richard Lewis. During the last 20 minutes Leitão proved the match-winner, scoring 13 of his side’s 18 unanswered points through a try, conversion and two penalties for a final score of 47-21.
"It feels good to win a match at this tournament,” said Duarte Diniz, the Portugal captain. “We adopted a different mindset from the start and I think we deserved to come out on top.”
Finals day, 24 May
Final: Georgia 49-24 Canada
Third place play-off: Uruguay 44-43- Tonga
Fifth place play-off: Fiji 36-24 Namibia
Seventh place play-off: Portugal 47-21 Hong Kong
Pool A – CAR Rugby do Jamor
20 May: Georgia 19-11 Portugal
20 May: Fiji 26-28 Uruguay
16 May: Uruguay 37-26 Portugal
16 May: Fiji 13-30 Georgia
12 May: Uruguay 12-46 Georgia
12 May: Fiji 34-19 Portugal
Pool B – Estadio Universitario de Lisboa
20 May: Namibia 36-12 Hong Kong
20 May: Tonga 11-13 Canada
16 May: Canada 24-15 Hong Kong
16 May: Tonga 45-11 Namibia
12 May: Canada 35-20 Namibia
12 May: Tonga 35-16 Hong Kong
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