World Rugby U20 Championship: Wales 8-7 New Zealand

World Rugby U20 Championship: Wales 8-7 New Zealand

Swansea-born Junior All Black Taine Plumtree wins this line-out against Morgan Jones
World Rugby U20 Championship: Wales v New Zealand
Wales (5) 8
Tries: Thomas-Wheeler Pens: C Evans
New Zealand (0) 7
Tries: Vaa’i Cons: Burke

Wales beat New Zealand in a dramatic and rain-disrupted encounter in Rosario to reach the fifth-place World Under-20 Championship final.

Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler’s hack-and-chase try gave Wales a lead that lasted from the 17th to 70th minutes.

Tupou Vaa’i hit back and Fergus Burke converted in the fifth-place semi-final.

But after missing four earlier kicks Burke’s rival 10 Cai Evans struck the decisive penalty in the dying moments.

England or Ireland play later on Monday in their semi-final with the winners facing Wales in Saturday’s fifth-place final and the losers going on to meet New Zealand with seventh place at stake.

An approaching storm had forced a suspension in play of more than an hour after less than 30 minutes play, fans leaving the venue as the players headed to the dressing rooms.

They had seen Thomas-Wheeler hacking on a fumbled pass before doing so again when Kaylum Boshier botched his clear-up attempt before the Wales centre won the race to the line.

That opportunist moment came at the end of an opening quarter dominated by the Junior All Blacks.

Fly-half Fergus Burke missed his first penalty kick at goal after Wales buckled at a scrum.

Bad weather moves in

But the action was soon halted as the bad weather moved in.

New Zealand replacement lock Samipeni Finau was sin-binned for a high challenge on Wales full-back Ioan Davies – but he could arguably count himself lucky not to have been shown a red card.

Having replaced centre Max Llewellyn as the storm approached, Sam Costelow departed with a mouth injury following a collision with Leicester Fainga’anuku.

That meant Rio Dyer entering the fray as Costelow’s replacement shortly before Evans missed with a penalty kick, his third failed shot at goal before he saw another hit an upright.

Evans equal to the pressure

With 10 minutes left Vaa’i rewarded New Zealand’s pressure and Burke’s conversion put New Zealand into the lead.

But Evans proved equal to the pressure of his final shot at goal while Burke missed a late chance to win it for New Zealand.

It was only the second time Wales had beaten New Zealand at this level, having won 9-6 in a 2012 pool game.

As a knock-out encounter, the win in Argentina topped that effort.

Wales had finished third in Pool A, which was won by hosts Argentina, while New Zealand lost out to South Africa in Pool C.

New Zealand included lock Taine Plumtree, who was born in Swansea in 2000 while his father John coached the All Whites from 1997-2001.

John Plumtree has coached Ireland’s forwards and is now head coach of Super Rugby side Hurricanes.

Wales U20s: Ioan Davies (Cardiff Blues); Deon Smith (Dragons), Max Llewellyn (Cardiff Blues), Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler (Ospreys), Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets); Cai Evans (Ospreys), Dafydd Buckland (Dragons); Kemsley Mathias (Scarlets), Dewi Lake (capt, Ospreys), Ben Warren (Cardiff Blues), Morgan Jones (Scarlets), Jac Price (Scarlets), Lennon Greggains (Dragons), Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers), Jac Morgan (Aberavon/Scarlets).

Replacements: Garin Lloyd (Ospreys), Rhys Davies (Ospreys), Nick English (Bristol Bears), Ed Scragg (Dragons), Iestyn Rees (Scarlets), Harri Morgan (Ospreys), Rio Dyer (Dragons), Sam Costelow (Leicester Tigers), Teddy Williams (Cardiff Blues), Tom Devine (Dragons), Ioan R Davies (Cardiff Blues), Will Griffiths (Dragons), Tomi Lewis (Scarlets).

New Zealand U20s: Scott Gregor; Lalomilo Lalomilo, Quinn Tupaea, Dallas McLeod, Leicester Fainga’anuku; Fergus Burke, Taufa Funaki; Ollie Norris, Kianu Kereru Symes (capt), Taine Plumtree, Tupou Vaa’i, Kaylum Boshier, Kohan Herbert, Devan Flanders.

Replacements: Shilo Klein, George Dyer, Fletcher Newell, Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, Cullen Grace, Samipeni Finau, Jeriah Mua, Simon Parker, Leroy Carter, Rivez Reihana, Billy Proctor, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Cole Forbes.

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