South Africa powered their way into the semi-finals of the Under 20s World Championship with a bonus point victory over Australia in Calvisano. They will face England in the semi finals, while New Zealand will take on France.
Leading the charge for the 2014 runners up was fly-half Brandon Thomson, whose two penalties, four conversions and try capped off a hugely impressive 46-13 win. They face England in the last four as they seek revenge for an agonising 21-20 defeat 12 months ago.
It was Thomson’s genius that gave the ‘Baby Boks’ a crucial bonus point, which relegated Australia to a 5th/6th playoff semi final against Scotland, who earlier beat Argentina 29-6.
The try was set up by a superb break from winger Khanyo Ngcukana. The ball then reached Thomson who switched back against the oncoming defence. The fly-half showed great pace after to streak clear to score.
Elsewhere, New Zealand withstodd a stern Irish challenge in the opening half hour to secure a comfortable 25-3 victory in Viadana, while Wales brushed aside competition returnees Japan 66-3.
Already impressive in their opening round victory over Wales, France toppled two time defending champions England with a clinical display, winning 30-18. A Damien Penaud double ensured a semi final place against New Zealand while England scored just enough points to allow them to sneak into the last four, at the expense of Australia.
Ranked 11th out of 12th, hosts Italy had but pride to play for in their final pool match against Samoa. They fought back from 20-12 at the break to lead 24-23 heading into the final 10 minutes, before a bizarre, loose pass from an Italian ruck gave Samoa the simplest of tries and ultimately cost the Azzurini a deserved win.
The top four teams on the overall standings are:
1. South Africa 15 points (93 point difference)
2. New Zealand 14 (83)
3. France 13 (61)
4. England 10 (-5)
The semi-final draw for 15 June at Calvisano are as follow:
18h30 New Zealand vs France
20h30 South Africa vs England
Match Highlights on page two, with Brandon Thomson’s great try below
France 30-18 England
Argentina 6-29 Scotland
New Zealand 25-3 Ireland
South Africa 46-13 Australia
Wales 66-3 Japan
Italy 24-30 Samoa