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JUNIOR WALLABIES FALL TO NEW ZEALAND IN OCEANIA RUGBY U20s CHAMPIONSHIP
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The Junior Wallabies have fallen to New Zealand in round three of the Oceania Rugby U20s Championship 28-43 on Saturday night at Bond University on the Gold Coast.
The victory sees New Zealand defend their Oceania Rugby U20s Championship title ahead of the World Rugby U20s Championship.
Junior Wallabies Head Coach Jason Gilmore said: “I thought we showed a lot of grit in the back end of the second half to stay in the contest. We can’t turn that much ball over against such a quality opposition.
“I don’t think we used that wind that well in the second half to gain that territory and New Zealand did that a lot better than us.
“Oceania has been really good. The first two games the standard was probably a bit down, but it gave us a run. Tonight, was the one and that’s the acid test you want before we head into our next camp.
“The boys will take a lot of learnings out of tonight, so it’s been a good week.”
Australia lost their big centre in Len Ikitau in the opening exchanges, which brought an early substitution of Tony Hunt into the match.
The Australians started the match on the front foot, dominating possession, territory and the early battle at scrum time for the opening 10 minutes.
But that ascendency was not turned into points until Matt McTaggart plucked a wayward New Zealand pass off a set play and ran 50 metres to score, drawing first blood in the process.
Momentum then started to swing New Zealand's way and in the 20th minute, kicking for the sake of kicking gifted fullback Vilimoni Koroi a chance to attack in broken play - an opportunity which finished with five points for halfback Jay Renton.
Australian captain Ryan Lonergan was sent to the bin for a professional foul for not rolling away when New Zealand were camped on the Australian line.
A 55 metre Harry Plummer penalty gave the Kiwis a 7-24 lead at the break.
The second half saw New Zealand extend their lead through a rolling maul try as they moved the score to 7-31.
The Junior Wallabies fought back with a try to fullback Mack Hansen, but New Zealand again countered with a try to Leicester Fainga'anuku.
Replacement scrumhalf Tate McDermott made an immediate impact as he entered the game, scoring a try with a piece of individual slicing through the defence to score.
The Junior Wallabies squad will travel to Canberra before departing for the World Rugby U20s Championship in France later this month.