Fiji, Namibia and Samoa continue to set the pace following day two of the World Rugby U20 2018 Trophy in Bucharest.
In Pool A, Namibia laid down another marker with a 12-try defeat of Hong Kong and put themselves within 80 minutes of the final. Samoa stand in their way and got the victory over Romania they needed to keep pace at the top of the group despite an ill-disciplined performance that earned them two yellows and one red card. The two sides meet on Wednesday afternoon in a winner-takes-all encounter for Pool A spoils.
Fiji are the only remaining unbeaten team in Pool B, but they were made to sweat for victory against Portugal, who led their more illustrious opponents with 23 minutes remaining. Fiji play Canada on Wednesday, who suffered late heartbreak for the second game running as a try in stoppage time gave Uruguay their first win of this year’s tournament.
URUGUAY 27-23 CANADA
Uruguay’s superior scrummaging power and technique told at the death as they reignited their World Rugby U20 Trophy hopes and handed Canada a second agonising defeat in succession.
Having blown a 15-point first-half lead against Portugal in their Pool B opener, that hangover seemed to seep into day two as Uruguay dominated the opening quarter.
The South Americans scored the game’s first try in the 11th minute when captain Santiago Civetta took advantage of a strong five-metre scrum to dot the ball down.
Will Percillier got Canada on the board with a penalty in the 19th minute, before he and Juan Cattivelli traded three-pointers as the game approached the half-hour mark.
Uruguay retained the upper hand, though, and they stretched their lead to nine points on the stroke of half-time as Alfonso Costa won the race to the goal-line following a mix-up in the Canadian defence that resulted in Josiah Morra tapping the ball towards danger.
Canada number eight Michael Smith drew his side within two points less than eight minutes into the second half as he stretched over from close range. But when Manuel Portela took a pass on Nicolas Buysan’s right shoulder it looked as though normal order had been resumed.
That was until Uruguay’s replacement prop Ignacio Peculo was sent to the sin bin. Canada scored 10 points in the period he was off the pitch, through a Percillier penalty and converted Jackson Matthews try, to take the lead.
The North Americans had around 10 minutes to hold out, and did until the final play of the game when the Uruguayans turned the screw at another five-metre scrum, and profiting from the holes punched in the Canadian defence, replacement playmaker Matias D’Avanzo danced over.
NAMIBIA 84-10 HONG KONG
Namibia accelerated away from Hong Kong in the final quarter, scoring seven tries from the 60th minute onwards to put the seal on a second successive victory in Pool A.
Having racked up a half-century of points against hosts Romania on Tuesday, the southern African side picked up where they left off at the Stadionul National Arcul De Triumf on Saturday.
Impressive Namibia fly-half Denzo Bruwer missed a long-range penalty attempt, from inches inside his own half, in the third minute but his side took the lead when Donaville Lebereki crossed eight minutes later.
A successful Bruwer penalty stretched Namibia’s lead to 10 points before an unconverted James Rivers try gave Hong Kong hope. Bruwer struck his second penalty before Gerswin Mouton grabbed two tries in four minutes - the second a wonderful solo effort - to edge Namibia’s advantage beyond three converted scores.
Callum Tam profited from a strong Hong Kong scrum to score his side’s second try three minutes before half-time, but from then on it was all one-way traffic.
Adriaan Ludick powered over to score shortly after the break, and 10 minutes later, with Namibia defending on their own line, Delron Brandt snagged an intercept before offloading for Elmarco Beukes to score.
Namibia scrum-half Jacques Theron ran back a 22 drop out almost unopposed on the hour mark to stretch his side’s lead to 36 points, but when Gerbus van Wyk was shown a yellow card five minutes later Hong Kong would have been forgiven for thinking there would have been a let up.
However, in the 10 minutes the back-row sat out his side ran in four tries. First, Mouton completed his hat-trick with a length of the field intercept, before Gilad Plaatjies, Gerhard Opperman and Pretorius all carved holes in an increasingly weary Hong Kong rearguard.
Van Wyk returned for the final four minutes and there was still time for Daryl Wellman and Wynand Breytenbach to both breach the goal-line.
SAMOA 31-17 ROMANIA
Samoa got off to an inauspicious start against the hosts as lock Stefano Leavasa was sent to the sin-bin within four minutes of kick-off.
Romania put the pressure on from the resulting scrum and when play was switched to the left, their route one approach tied in the Samoan defence and allowed Emanuel Grigore to scamper over.
Samoa scrum-half Pupi Ah See was not going to be outdone by his opposite number, however, and within two minutes he carved open the home defence to level the scores.