England U20 retain World Championship title

England’s U20’s retained their IRB Junior World Championship title by beating South Africa 21-20 in the tournament final at Eden Park in New Zealand on Friday.

The hosts New Zealand beat Ireland earlier in the day and finished in third place overall.

Tries from Nathan Earle and Joel Conlon looked to have put England on the way,
but the Baby Boks rallied from 21-13 down to set up a thrilling finale.

In the end, a pair of penalties and a conversion from Billy Burns – plus
Aaron Morris’ superbly-struck penalty from inside his own half – proved
just enough.

After a cagey opening, Pollard and Burns exchanged penalties to make it three-apiece
with 18 minutes on the clock.

South Africa had the opening score with half an hour played after a tap-and-go
from England’s Henry Taylor was knocked-on by Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi. The
ball fell to Pollard, who chipped through for Jessie Kriel to score.

England never really got going in the first 35 minutes but had some joy at
the end of the half. First Morris sent a 55-metre penalty flying between the
sticks before a smart break from Nick Tompkins freed up space for Earle to dive
over. It was the Saracens winger’s sixth try of the tournament.

Another Burns penalty just after half time extended their narrow lead to 14-10
before Pollard hit back to make it 14-13. With the game on a knife-edge, England
got the ultimately decisive second try – executing a rolling maul from
a lineout to perfection, with replacement Conlon eventually touching down.

At 21-13 up, Burns saw a penalty sail to the left of the posts, and England
were made to pay when Kriel went over for his second try after a scything South
African attack.

The impressive Pollard sent a drop-goal attempt just wide with five minutes
to play, but England’s staunch defence held firm for their second consecutive
JWC title.

Quotes from Maro Itoje ,”It doesn’t feel real at the moment. It feels
pretty special. It’s something I dreamt of when I heard about the JWC and I
am so happy to be able to lift it.

“It is massive, it has never been done before in English rugby. It shows
the club academies are doing their work, the RFU academy and their personal
development is working, so long may it continue.”

Quotes from Billy Burns ,”The South Africans came at us hard and it could
have gone either way but we showed that character. Full credit to the forwards
to dig it out at the end for five or six minutes. It was an outstanding effort
and we have worked hard all campaign and to come out with a gold medal in the
end is a massive achievement.

“It was one of our big strengths. We always believe in ourselves and no
matter what position we are in on the field we feel we can find a way out of
it. In the first half the set piece didn’t go as planned and us backs weren’t
as sharp and to come out in the second half and show the character that we did
and grind out that win was a real good achievement.

“It was six minutes the forwards held onto the ball there in the end and
all credit to them for the discipline the whole way. We knew we couldn’t give
any penalties away because to be fair Handre Pollard was kicking outstanding
and we knew that if we gave him opportunities he was going to take it so all
credit goes to the forwards they really got us out of that one.

“We won it last year but it was a different squad so we had no title to
our name so to come out here to win it back-to-back in the southern hemisphere
was a massive achievement and one we will enjoy for sure.”

Quotes from Nick Walshe ,”I thought we grew through the game and got some
composure. Aaron banging the penalty over was a real boost and then sneaking
in the corner just before half time really gave us a s

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