SCOTLAND will face Italy in the penultimate round of the IRB Junior World Championship in Auckland on Sunday after the Scots finished last in Pool C following an expected defeat to the host nation, New Zealand, at the ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe yesterday.
New Zealand, who have won the IRB Junior World Championship four times since its inception at under-20 level in 2008, required not only a bonus point win but also victory by a substantial margin to keep alive their hopes of recapturing the JWC title.
In the event, their powerful and fast brand of rugby delivered a seven-try tally, providing the Junior All Blacks with the points they needed to reach the semi-finals, where they will face South Africa on Sunday.
Defeat left the Scots fourth in Pool C and ranked 12th overall at the end of the group stage, meaning that they will play the fourth and fifth rounds of the tournament fighting to avoid relegation from the top tier of the Junior World Championship.
Victory over Italy on Sunday, however, would guarantee the young Scots a place in the 2015 tier one tournament.
“We just need to stay strong and regroup for the last games,” said head coach, Sean Lineen. He added: “It’s been a really challenging pool and we’re obviously disappointed the way the games went, but I’m really pleased with the scrums and the work we’ve done on defence.”
Against a determined New Zealand side, eager to atone for their loss to South Africa in round two, Scotland trailed 21-0 at the break after the Junior All Blacks had run in tries by No 8 Tom Sanders, scrum-half Josh Renton and flanker Mitchell Jacobsen, with conversions from skipper Simon Hickey (2) and full-back Richard Mo’unga.
Second half tries by Renton, replacement Damian McKenkenzie, centre TJ Fainene, replacement wing Vincent Tavae-Aso and replacement scrum-half Leon Fukofukaand and five further conversions from Mo’unga completed the New Zealand scoring.
But, four minutes from full time, Scotland were finally rewarded for their efforts when Damian Hoyland intercepted inside his own 22 before out-sprinting the defence for the Scots’ only try.
Gavin Lowe, who had moved from wing to stand-off, added the conversion.
Elsewhere, Ireland achieved their first place in the top four after a 38-0 win over Fiji and will face England on Sunday. England, the defending champions, struggled against a resurgent Argentina team, before achieving victory over the number six seeds by the narrowest of margins with a 17-16 win. In the other Pool B match, Wales, with a 13-3 win, denied Six Nations champions France a place in the semi-finals.
The rankings after the group stage mean that Wales and France will now meet again on Sunday.
Scotland U20: R Young; G Lowe, C Dean, B Hutchison (captain), S Pecqueur; B Chalmers, B Vellacott; J Cosgrove, J Malcolm, Z Fagerson, A Cramond , L Carmichael, J Ritchie, G Carroll, M Bradbury. Subs used: C Fenton, P Cringle, D Rae, T Spinks, S James, A Glashan, D Hoyland, G Parker.
New Zealand U20: R Mo’unga; T Tuimavave, TJ Faiane, K Finau, T Li; S Hickey (captain), J Renton; S Mellow, J O’Reilly, T Cadwallader, T Callander, J Dickson, K Harris, M Jacobson, T Sanders. Subs used: H Faiva, T Koloamatangi, A Moli, J Tucker, M Peni, L Fukofuka,V Tavae-Aso, D McKenzie.
Semi-final line-up (1-4): England v Ireland, South Africa v New Zealand. (5-8): Australia v Samoa, Wales v France. (9-12): Italy v Scotland, Argentina v Fiji.