Australia beat Samoa 34-22 in their first round clash at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Northern Italy on Tuesday. The Australian side came into the clash having comfortably beaten the Samoans in three previous meetings; the last being a 53-16 lesson. After only 46 seconds the Samoans conceded a penalty in their 22 after a wonderful run from fullback Jonah Placid which was converted by flyhalf Andrew Deegan.
Ten minutes later Deegan ran to within the 10 metre line after seven phases but the fly half chose to go himself and subsequently lost it forward. Three minutes later flanker Michael Gunn scored a try from a line out which was driven with the Samoans unable to defend the maul. The Pacific Islanders’ best chance in the half came when Aussie-born winger Frank Winterstein was tackled in touch by scrumhalf James Tuttle in the left corner in the 13th minute.
Samoan flyhalf Josh Ioane scored a penalty in the 17th minute against the run of play. Minutes later star fullback Placid received the ball to beat three hapless Samoans stepping off his right to left foot for a converted try to make it 15-3 to Australia after 26 minutes. It took Samoa until the 32nd minute to really get into the game after captain Joshua Dowsing failed to offload within 15 metres of the try line.
Aussie lock Lukhan Lealalauloto-Tul was sin binned for dangerous play after grabbing flyhalf Ioane in a wrestling style fling and over-the-shoulder slam. It is hard to believe that the 18-year old Aussie lock, at over two metres and 123 kilograms is still growing. On the stroke of half-time flyhalf Deegan took a high ball brilliantly only to lose it to a Samoan turnover.
Skipper Dowsing then speared his way through to offload to Ioane to Winterstein who beat two Aussie defenders off his right foot into the inside for a try. It was 15-8 to the Australians at half-time. Three minutes after the restart Samoan prop Mike Tamoaieta was cautioned for collapsing the scrum after both he and his opposite number kneelled to the ground.
What made the caution bizarre was instead of a reset the referee sent him to the sin bin even though it was a Samoan scrum. It changed the game, as three minutes later Cameron Orr’s fantastic carry drew in Samoa for the resultant pass out wide to Deegan to score through an organised Samoan line for a 20-8 lead. A minute later after the restart the impressive Placid caught the ball and ran 60 metres before his hopeful grubber found touch with no support to his left.
The referee finally acknowledged that there was indeed another team on the field -albeit in the 62nd minute, after awarding a penalty for a scrum infringement to Samoa, flyhalf Ioane kicked to touch. The Samoan forwards drove the ball from the resultant line out for Samoan skipper Dowsing to score from the back of the maul. It was 20-15 with 15 minutes to play and Samoa looking to cause an upset.
Three minutes later star fullback Placid beat three Samoans 15 metres out to dot down for his second for a 27-15 lead in the 66th. Samoan replacement forward Jarred Adams used all 125kgs of his self to push the ball up against the post, utilising his knowledge of the rules very well. It was game on at 27 -22 with eight minutes on the clock.
However winger and captain Andrew Kellaway had the final say as he scored a converted try in the 75th minute in the left corner after some good work by the Aussie forwards. The match finished 34-22 to the Aussies.
Photo credit: Massimiliano Pratelli/Fotosportit