Baby Blacks power to win over England
An unstoppable Baby Blacks side has crushed England 64-17 in a record-breaking final of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Tbilisi.
But they had to do it without Hawke’s Bay player Tiaan Falcon, who was ruled out of the match after being concussed in the side’s semifinal win over France.
It is a blow for Falcon, with the No 10 one of the best at this year’s championship. He and team mate Will Jordan have been nominated for the player of the tournament award.
In the final, powerful hooker Asafo Aumua led the way with a hat-trick of tries as New Zealand crossed the line 10 times in the rout.
It is the most tries scored by any team in an under-20 final.
The game was effectively over at halftime as New Zealand raced out to an early 40-7 lead, with Dalton Papali’i and Pouri RaketeStones kicking things off by scoring inside the opening 10 minute against an England team captained by Zach Mercer, son of former Kiwis rugby league international Gary Mercer.
The Baby Blacks continued to dominate with their strong ball runners running riot through the English defence, eventually chalking up the biggest scoreline for a final in the competition’s 10-year history.
Captain Luke Jacobson, who iced the victory with his second try of the game right before fulltime, was able to match the achievement of his older brother Mitchell from two years ago by winning the tournament.
‘‘It feels amazing, it’s been our goal for a long time - you feel it inside,’’ Jacobson said.
‘‘We just kept working really hard and played some good finals footy,’’ he said.
Falcon’s replacement, Blues playmaker Stephen Perofeta, was rushed into the squad during the week. Perofeta kicked seven conversions and made one spectacular break in the first half, but the game really belonged to the devastating forward pack, who ran in nine of New Zealand’s 10 tries.
It was the sixth time New Zealand have won the tournament.
(Dalton Papali’i, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Asafo Aumua 3, Isaia WalkerLeawere, Luke Jacobson 2, Josh McKay, Tom Christie tries; Stephen Perofeta 7 con)
(Ben Earl, Alex Mitchell, Josh Bayliss tries; Max Malins con). HT: 40-7
New Zealand celebrate their 64-17 win over England in the final. Above, Hawke’s Bay player Tiaan Falcon is in the running for player of the tournament.