Hosts Scotland and former champions Japan and USA remain unbeaten at the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2024 following round two at Hive Stadium in Edinburgh on Sunday.  

USA kicked off proceedings with a statement win over last year’s beaten finalists Uruguay to put themselves clear at the top of Pool B with one round of matches to play.

Finlay Doyle then took his try tally to six in two matches as Scotland eased past Hong Kong China.

Japan then set up a winner-takes-all Pool A finale with the hosts following a commanding 81-7 victory against Samoa, in which winger Kohaku Ebisawa scored a hat-trick of tries and kicked two conversions. 

The Netherlands, meanwhile, put in a stunning first-half performance en route to earning a first U20 Trophy win, beating Kenya 51-3 in the last match of day two in Edinburgh.

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Pool A: Scotland 101-0 Hong Kong China

Winger Finlay Doyle scored his second hat-trick in as many matches as Scotland cruised to a second century of points in the tournament with a thoroughly impressive win over Hong Kong China.

Five days after putting on a World Rugby U20 tournament record score against Samoa, Scotland ran in 15 tries in their second outing at Hive Stadium, to add to the 19 they scored first time out, while engineering student Doyle is now three tries shy of the U20 Trophy record for an individual player, jointly held by Portugal’s Raffaele Storti and Samoa’s Robert Lilomaiava.

They were stronger, quicker, and more organised than their opponents from the outset. It took them 10 minutes to get into their stride against Samoa on Tuesday. This time, they were on the board inside two minutes, flanker Freddy Douglas crashing over from a lineout maul. 

Doyle got his first eight minutes later, after Hong Kong China missed touch. Fly-half Matthew Urwin gathered and passed to the impressive Johnny Ventisei, who shipped it out to Doyle.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic. Scotland kept infringing at the breakdown, too eager perhaps to get their hands on the ball, allowing Hong Kong China – who shipped a then U20 Trophy record 105 points against Japan on Tuesday – to push the Scots deep into their own territory more than once. But they were unable to make the most of their occasional sorties into Scotland’s 22.

When they had the ball, Scotland were clinical – especially at the lineout. Liam McConnell scored their third following a penalty to touch with Jonny Morris following his captain’s lead minutes later after a break from Ludo Kolade. 

Four tries in 22 minutes became five in 25 as Hector Patterson danced through the defence from the base of a maul. Douglas’s second, on the half hour, was a carbon copy of his first. 

Another lineout led to Doyle’s second, as he cut back from a trick strike move five minutes before the break. And he got his third directly from the restart, finishing smartly after hooker Stephen had shown excellent speed to shred the defence. 

Ventisei got Scotland’s ninth two minutes into the second half and Morris was on hand to profit from another Kolade break to score his second eight minutes later. 

Hong Kong China defended bravely, but were tiring. Jack Hocking scored Scotland’s 11th after his forwards had made a mess of an opposition lineout before Fergus Watson raced in for their 12th from the restart.

Urwin converted Jerry Blyth-Lafferty’s try to take the score to 87-0 in the 65th minute, the time they had broken the century against Samoa. Kolade got a deserved score of his own three minutes from time and Urwin converted Ryan Burke’s try on the hooter to take Scotland past the century.

Pool A: Japan 81-7 Samoa

Samoa had been on the receiving end of a heavy defeat to Scotland on day one, but they started brightly against Japan on Sunday.

However, Samoa could not turn early territory into points, and it was Japan who opened the scoring when centre Yamato Ueda went over from close range in the eighth minute.

Ueda’s centre partner Takaya Motohashi missed the conversion, as he did four minutes later after hooker Kenshin Shimizu had piloted a powerful lineout drive to notch his fourth try of the tournament and double the Japanese lead.

Flanker Shusui Kamei then profited from some quick thinking from Japan scrum-half Joji Takaki to score in the left corner, but again it was unconverted.

Japan secured the bonus-point try in the 25th minute when Ebisawa came off his wing to get the ball in midfield and cut through the Samoa defence. This time Motohashi added the extras.

Ebisawa then collected a pin-point Motohashi cross-field kick for his second try of the night, four minutes later as Japan appeared to be cruising at 27-0 up and with 10 minutes of the first half still to play.

But, had Panaua Niulevaea converted a penalty attempt bang in front of the posts or number eight Benjamin Faavae won the race to the bouncing ball following his charge down or Niulevaea not been dragged down metres from the line, then Samoa may have eaten more into the Japanese lead before the break.

As it was, they had to settle for Maoaluma Pasa’s try on the stroke of half-time as the fly-half went over under the posts following good work from winger Taitaifono Tavita and scrum-half Ravuama Seruvakula.

Niulevaea converted to leave Japan 27-7 in front at the interval but that was as close to their opponents that Samoa would come.

The Pacific Island nation did not lack for effort in the opening exchanges of the second half but once Shimizu had gone over at the back of another lineout drive in the 49th minute, the floodgates burst open.

It was the first of four tries scored in 11 second-half minutes, each converted – the first by Takaki and rest by Motohashi – as Japan accelerated into the distance.

Jinnosuke Mori got the second of those, after Samoa had initially repelled a driving maul, before winger Kent Iioka finished a flowing move and second row Chuka Ishibashi powered his way over.

With the victory assured, Japan added four further tries in the final 15 minutes as replacement forwards Ryoku Masuo and Kyoya Tanaka went over, before winger Ebisawa completed his hat-trick and Tasuku Masuyama scored to make the final score 81-7.

Samoa ended the match with 14 players after Faavae was sent to the sin bin for illegally attempting to bring down the drive from which Tanaka scored.

Pool B: Uruguay 15-32 USA

USA took control of Pool B, as they avenged a tight defeat in last year’s tournament with a comfortable victory over Uruguay to win their second match in Edinburgh.

Each nation had won two of their four previous meetings, with the last three encounters having been decided by no more than two points – most recently at last year’s U20 Trophy in Kenya, where Uruguay edged a titanic battle 33-31 thanks to a converted try in the 75th minute.

The first half at Hive Stadium was more slow-burn than that match in 2023, with USA’s 18-year-old fly-half Benjamin Saunders’ sixth-minute penalty the only score of the opening quarter as both sides struggled to keep their hands on the ball in the face of some strong defence.

But the match was no-less intense than a year earlier. Uruguay had the upper hand at the set-piece, winning penalty after penalty at the scrum, while USA looked more dangerous in unstructured play, especially when they went wide. 

Uruguay, however, were the first to register a try, with a clever lineout strike move after a penalty kick to touch. They faked to maul, but passed the ball back to the blindside, where hooker Francisco Garcia had a clear run to the line. 

A penalty just before half-time extended Uruguay’s lead, but USA were back in front 10 minutes into the second half via two well-struck Saunders’ penalties.

Uruguay’s narrow defence was caught out minutes later, following a perfectly judged 50:22 kick from new arrival Oliver Cline, on for Saunders. The ball was spun wide from the lineout to find winger Corbin Smith in wide-open spaces. 

USA got outside Uruguay’s defence again for Keelan Farrell to run under the posts with 14 minutes left.

It looked like the USA were going to run away with it – but Uruguay cut the deficit almost at once, as Santiago Gini raced in under the posts. 

A Cline penalty from the restart opened up the gap again. But, despite their best efforts in the closing minutes – Dylan Fortune was held up and Saunders could not hang on to the ball with the line begging – they could not get the bonus-point try.

POOL B: Netherlands 51-3 Kenya

The Netherlands picked up where they left off against USA last Tuesday, and then some, to blow Kenya away inside 40 minutes on Sunday.

It took the Dutch less than two minutes to open the scoring at Hive Stadium as scrum-half Niek Doornenbal skipped through a couple of tackles close to the line.

Full-back Ilan Vaasen converted but was wayward from the tee minutes later as he passed up the opportunity to add the extras to centre Kees de Bruin’s try.

The Netherlands continued to dominate proceedings and Vaasen stroked over a penalty in the 11th minute to stretch their lead to 15 points.

Kenya’s task became infinitely harder five minutes later as second row Clein Omukhulu was shown a yellow card for bringing down a driving maul illegally.

The Dutch took advantage immediately, number eight Joris Smits coming up with the ball following a powerful lineout drive against their depleted opponents. Vaasen added an impressive touchline conversion.

James Olela got Kenya on the scoreboard with a penalty as the match ticked into its second quarter but it was a brief respite and second later Netherlands fly-half Tom Hijdra found Kit Temperley with a fine miss pass and the Dutch captain did the rest.

That score guaranteed the Netherlands a try bonus-point and they would breach the Kenyan line twice more before half time as Smits crossed for the second time at the back of a driving maul and prop Toine Obiang Nguema powered over from a penalty move.

The Dutch found things much tougher going after the break as Kenya dug in and it took them more than 22 minutes of the second half to add their seventh try.

An impressive counter attack just after the hour mark was given added impetus by some slick handling as Hijdra and Temperley combined to release Vaasen in the left corner.

The tournament debutants breached the 50-point mark in the 74th minute as replacement winger Flynn Baker produced an impressive finish on the opposite flank.

Vaasen missed both of his touchline conversions in the second half but it mattered little as the Dutch ran out comfortable 51-3 winners to maintain their hopes of reaching the final at the first attempt.

Photos: SNS Group/World Rugby