New Zealand showed why they are the reigning Oceania Rugby and World Rugby U20s champions with a commanding 97-0 win over tournament debutants Tonga on Friday night.
The Craig Philpott-coached side rose to the challenge in front of them from the off, posting their first try through Leicester Fainga’anuku with less than 90 seconds gone. Ricky Jackson added a second after five minutes and New Zealand did not let up from that point onwards to take a 42-0 lead into half-time.
Rather than take their foot off the gas, New Zealand put on another masterclass of finishing in the second half to nearly reach three figures, with Fainga’anuku going on to complete his hat-trick. In total, 12 different players got their names on the scoresheet and New Zealand also had a penalty try awarded.
Tonga fought valiantly but were clearly no match for a New Zealand team brimming with confidence.
“I’m over the moon with the boys – we came into the match and made a statement, but we’ve got our hot standards to maintain,” said New Zealand captain Tom Christie. "We are really happy with how we played and the style that we brought. We will go back to the drawing board and find the nitty gritty and then look to develop on it.”
Tonga captain Saimone Rewa was not too downbeat despite the one-sided scoreline. “It was a good learning curve for all of us, we’re a young team and we’ve got lot to learn. We need to pick up on our positioning and defence and the ruck area as well. The boys will remain focused and keen going into our next match against Australia”.
Aussies turn on the style for locals
Hosts Australia impressed the home crowd at Bond University in the second match of the evening with a convincing 51-5 win against Fiji.
The Junior Wallabies were clinical in attack and rain in eight tries against a spirited Fiji side who fought to the bitter end and were rewarded with a late consolation try for Sikeli Lumelume.
Dominant upfront, Australia established a 27-0 lead at the break before scoring four more tries in the second 40.
“It was a solid effort by the team. I thought both halves in the first 20 minutes we executed really well and showed maturity,” said head coach Jason Gilmore.
“For a first hit out I thought it was pretty solid. You want to make your defence the backbone of your team and the rest of it flows off that.
“I was a bit disappointed in the back 20 of both halves with our defence. That’s the first game for us so it’s a bit of a line in the sand for us to see how we go.
“We need to keep building our programmes and systems in the Oceania Rugby U20s Championship before we head to the World Championship.”
For Fiji, the task does not get any easier with New Zealand next up. “We expected a real physical battle going against a Tier One nation. I know the boys did their best, however, we take a lot of learnings out of this game. We know it will be a tough one going into our next game against New Zealand, but we are determined to give it our best,” said Fiji captain Raikabula Momedonu.