Spain and Samoa one game away from glory
Samoa and tournament debutants Spain make it through to the final of the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2016 after contrasting wins on day three in Zimbabwe.
In a unified show of support for World Rugby’s anti-doping campaign, players, management and officials involved in the U20 Trophy wore dedicated Keep Rugby Clean t-shirts on a day when Samoa rewrote the record books on their way to reaching Sunday's title decider.
In defeating Uruguay 56-22, the 2011 champions racked up their highest ever score at the U20 Trophy. They will now play Pool B winners Spain, who defeated USA in Wednesday’s winner-takes-all finale, at the Harare Sports Club for the right to play in the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2017.
The third place play-off will be between Fiji and Namibia, who put Hong Kong to the sword. Uruguay and USA will contest fifth spot and host nation Zimbabwe face Hong Kong in a battle to avoid last place.
SAMOA 56-22 URUGUAY
The battle for top spot in Pool A and a place in Sunday’s final emphatically went the way of Samoa, who are now 80 minutes away from an immediate return to the World Rugby U20 Championship.
On this form Samoa will be hard to stop. They tore into the Uruguayans to score seven tries – all through different players, with four coming in a devastating 12-minute period after half-time.
Instigator-in-chief was fly-half D’Angelo Leuila, who enjoyed a fine game behind a dominant pack, scoring a try and kicking all seven conversions for a 20-point haul.
It was his neat footwork that opened up the Uruguayan defence for the first score, hooker Tu’uta Simalie supplying the finish after a series of pick and goes.
A good spell of pressure form Uruguay followed and after two attempts at a driving maul from penalties kicked to the corner had been repelled, second-row Juan Diego Quintero burrowed over. Luca Duran converted to bring the scores level.
Scrum-half Santiago Arata showed the Samoan defence a clean pair of heels with a blistering run down the right touchline as the first quarter drew to a close, but full-back Salesi Rayasi and centre Jonah Refiti got across in the nick of time to bundle him into touch a metre short of the line.
Samoa stepped it up a level and scored two more tries before the break through centre Augustine Mafoe, who jogged through unopposed from 20 metres, and second-row Mikaele Tipili after a good shove from a five-metre scrum had set Uruguay back on their heels.
Leuila started the second-half onslaught when he danced through a gaping hole in the Uruguayan defence within five minutes of the restart.
Full-back Rayasi was next to cross and he was quickly followed over the whitewash by right wing Laaloi Leiluai, who ran onto a switch pass from Leuila at pace to scythe through the defence.
Samoa were in no mood to let up and it took great scramble defence from Uruguay to prevent Leilau finishing off a devastating break down the right. The men in blue recycled the ball quickly and, having spotted Uruguay were desperately short of numbers out wide, they moved it left to leave number eight Tiumalu with the simplest of run-ins.
Credit to Uruguay, though, as they never gave up. Replacement Sebastien Pfeiff’s decision to go himself from a quickly-taken tap penalty was fully justified when he scored from five metres out to halt a run of 44 unanswered points against his team. Winger Martin Fitipaldo grabbed another consolation score with a well-taken finish eight minutes from time.
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