Australia book place in U21 World Cup Final
June 21, 2005

Australia has scored five tries to one to beat France 28-16 in the Semi Final of the IRB U21 World Championship in Mendoza, and will now meet South Africa in the Final on Saturday afternoon (6:40am Sunday AEST).

It was a dominant display from the Australians with winger Digby Ioane and fullback Cameron Shepherd scoring two tries each.

The margin could have been greater if not for an off day with the boot for the goal kickers. Shepherd and flyhalf Daniel Halangahu had a total of nine shots at goal but were only able to land one penalty.

The match was played in slippery conditions, with a thick fog hanging over the ground, creating an eerie atmosphere at the Liceo Rugby Club.

Both teams kicked a penalty goal in the opening ten minutes before Australia scored their opening try. A clever kick from centre Lloyd Johansson was snapped up by Shepherd who dived over for his first of two five pointers.

Digby Ioane extended the Australian lead to 13-6 with a try on the left wing. France then went on the attack at the end of the first half and pressured the Australian line with a series of tap kicks and forward raids. However the Australian defence was outstanding and France was kept tryless.

France scored a good try early in the second half to bring it to 13-13, but Australia then shifted up a gear. After Australia controlled the ball for several phases and recycled quickly, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau dived over to take an 18-13 lead.

The hooker's good work was soon undone when he was yellow carded in the 57th minute, but during his time on the sideline Shepherd and Ioane both scored their second tries and Australia had the game under control at 28-13.

A late penaly goal to France took the final score to 28-16.

Australian coach Chris Hickey said:

"There was a period in the second half when France had the ball and put us under a lot of pressure, which we defended well.

"If our defence hadn't functioned it would have been a completely different game.

"We'll have to see if we've picked up any injuries and study South Africa, who are a great side."

Australian captain Ben Mowen said:

"It was a really tough, physical game, and although it might not have been the prettiest, the result was the most important thing.

"We prepared really well for this game and it was a great performance from the boys."

Australian Number 8 Leroy Houston suffered an ankle injury in the 25 minute and was replaced by Shane Udy. Houston's injury is currently being assessed to see whether or not he will be ruled out of the Final on Saturday.

Final of the IRB Under 21 World Championship

Saturday 25 June, Malvinas Argentinas Stadium, Mendoza

Australia v South Africa 5:40pm (6:40am Sunday AEST)

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