New Zealand secured their fifth Under 20s World Championship after beating England 21-16 in an enthralling final in Cremona on Saturday. It was the first title for the Baby Blacks since 2011 and their triumph brought to an end a two year winning streak for the English.
England started the game strongly and scored a cracking opening try through Max Clark. The centre, latching onto a superb flat pass rom Rory Jennings, burst through the Kiwi defence and showed considerable pace to breeze round full back Mitchell Hunt for the score.
Jennings added the conversion and a further penalty extended the lead as New Zealand got on the scoreboard with a Otere Black penalty after 8 minutes.
Vincent Tavea-Aso came on as a substitute for injured centre TJ Faiane and made an immmediate impact taking just 20 seconds to score a brilliant individual try. The 20 year-old evaded several defenders en route to a sensational score in the far corner.
The conversion was missed but Black added a penalty on the brink of half-time to take an 11-10 lead.
New Zealand came out firing in the second half and scored their second try after just five minutes. Number 8 Akira Ioane barged over from close range to dot down near the posts; Black converted to increase the lead to 18-10 with England having scarcely touched the ball in the second period.
Ioane’s celebrations were short-lived however as he received a yellow card three minutes later, for not using arms in a tackle on Jennings.
England pounced on the numerical advantage and so nearly scored their second try to reduce the deficit. However the TMO ruled that replacement Piers O’Conor was in front of Howard Packman as the winger chipped ahead.
Jennings slotted two further penalties but New Zealand made sure of victory with a third Black penalty. The Baby Blacks then held off a valiant challenge to grab their fifith World Championship in seven years.