Bonus point win thwarts Australians

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England and South Africa will fight out the 2014 IRB Junior World Rugby Union Championship when they meet at Eden Park, Auckland, on June 20.

England earned a berth in the decider with a 42-15 win over Ireland in their semi-final, while South Africa defeated New Zealand 32-25 in the other semi-final.

The Australian squad, which boasted five Sydney University Colts in props Tom Robertson and Matt Sandell, halfback Angus Pulver, five-eighth Johnny Vaux and centre Jim Stewart, unluckily missed out on a semi-final berth thanks to a tight for-and-against points count.

The Australians opened the tournament with a 36-17 win over Argentina in the pool match at ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, on June 2.

They then succumbed 38-4 to England in their second round match at QBE Stadium, Auckland on June 6, before completing their pool matches with a 53-16 win over Samoa.

They then had to wait for the result of the New Zealand v Scotland pool match to determine who secured a semi-final berth. The Kiwis needed to beat Scotland by more than five points and with a try bonus point, which they duly did, rattling up a 54-7 result to send Australia to the best pool runners-up spot.

The Aussie will now meet France in the play-off for fifth, while Ireland and New Zealand will contest the bronze medal play-off.

Australian Under 20s Head Coach Adrian Thompson said Australia still has a lot to play for.

“Obviously we were disappointed that we didn’t make the semi-finals, especially since we proved we were good enough to be there with our final tournament points total,” he said.

“A strong finish this year will assist the Under 20s team of 2015 with their seeding, helping position Australia to perform well at next year’s tournament.”

Sandell, a former Australian Schoolboy representative, will still be available for selection for the Under 20s next year. He was a late inclusion in this year’s squad after an injury to Alifeleti Kaitu’u.

“Matt offers a bit of cover for us as he can play any position in the front row and will be a valuable impact player,” Thompson said. “He made his first grade debut for Sydney University in the Shute Shield several weeks ago.”