New Zealand end four-year U20 drought

Date published: June 20 2015

New Zealand clinched their first U20 World Championship title in four years with a 21-16 win over England in Italy.

Defending champions England were eyeing a third-straight title but after a bright start were always on the back foot against a dangerous Baby Blacks side.

Akira Ioane's second-half try and the boot of Otere Black were crucial for New Zealand as their defence held firm in the closing stages, bringing England's reign to an end.

England started brightly, benefiting from their work at the breakdown to set up an attack which ended with the game's first try.

Max Clark's cutting line took him through the New Zealand defence and the centre had the pace and power to finish.

Jennings' conversion took England to a 7-0 lead before Otere Black responded with a penalty to put New Zealand on the board.

The England fly-half responded with his first penalty after New Zealand strayed offside as England restored their seven-point lead, but the Baby Blacks influence on the contest was increasing.

Losing TJ Faiane to injury looked like a setback but his replacement Vincent Tavae-Aso showed brilliant power and pace to finish in the corner.

Black couldn't add the conversion but did land a penalty before the break to give New Zealand an 11-10 advantage at half-time.

The Baby Blacks posed a constant threat with their backs but England had done well to contain Tevita Li and Akira Ioane for as long as possible, before the New Zealand number eight made his inevitable impact.

Ioane found a gap and powered over for New Zealand's second try but not long after was harshly sin-binned for an alleged no-arms tackle from which Jennings added a second penalty to reduce New Zealand's lead to five points.

Piers O’Conor thought he had restored England's lead with a try but the replacement was judged to be infront of the kicker after Howard Packman cracked the Kiwi line, but the effort was chalked off.

Lewis Ludlam's influence on the breakdown earned England another three points from Jennings to make it 18-16, but Black replied to restore order as England's handling errors counted up.

A costly miss from Jennings kept England behind at 21-16 with ten minutes to go and New Zealand kept their composure, although Black missed a chance to put the game beyond England's reach.

But the New Zealand defence held, sparking great scenes of celebration as the Baby Blacks secured their first U20 title since 2011.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:

Tries: Tavae-Aso, Ioane

Cons: Black

Pens: Black 3

Yellow Card: Ioane

For England:
Try: Clark
Con: Jennings
Pens: Jennings 3

New Zealand: 15 Mitchell Hunt, 14 Jack Goodhue, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Otere Black, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Mitchell Dunshea, 5 Hamish Dalzell, 4 Joshua Goodhue, 3 Atunaisa Moli (c), 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Ricky Riccitelli
Replacements: 16 Steven Misa, 17 Isileli Tu'ungafasi, 18 Tau Koloamatangi, 19 Mitchell Jacobson, 20 Henry Stowers, 21 Harrison Levien, 22 Vincent Tavae-Aso, 23 George Bridge

England: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 George Perkins, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Max Clark, 11 Howard Packman, 10 Rory Jennings, 9 James Mitchell, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Will Owen, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 5 Charlie Ewels (c), 4 Will Witty, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Sebastian Adeniran-Olule, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Sam Skinner, 21 Will Homer, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Piers O’Conor.