Aussie beats Tasman rivals for U19 World Cup
April 22, 2006

A two try flurry midway through the first half provided the impetus for Australia to eke out a narrow 17-13 victory over New Zealand in the final of under-19 World Cup rugby tournament in Dubai today.

Australian lock Daniel Linde put the first points on the board with an opportunist try in the 15th minute while winger Lachlan Turner's explosive burst down the left touchline soon after helped open up a 14-point lead.

And although New Zealand mounted a magnificent fightback to come within touching distance of claiming the trophy, Australia gained sweet revenge for a 22-17 reverse against their trans Tasman rivals in group play just eight days previously.

Centre Anthony Faingaa slotted a drop goal three minutes from the end of regulation time to make the margin more comfortable for Australia.

New Zealand could have taken the lead early on when Colin Slade, the tournament's leading points scorer, attempted a straight 45-metre penalty but although the full-back's kick had more than enough legs, it just drifted wide of the upright.

The occasion seemed to affect both sides, who battled to contain their early nerves.

Australia grasped the initiative with the opening try in the 14th minute, although there was an element of luck attached to it.

The Australians established a good attacking position in the New Zealand 22 where a pass hit a New Zealander and went loose, Linde reacting first to pick up the ball and cross from close range for a try converted by fly-half Christian Lealiifano.

Australia's dream start continued two minutes later Lealiifano released Turner wide on the left, and the winger had the pace and strength to cross in the corner and then accelerate round behind the posts for another converted try.

New Zealand's only response was a Slade 35m penalty on 27 minutes.

New Zealand came out for the second half with renewed vigour and tried to step up the pace. But Australia still managed to edge the game territorially in a fascinating battle between two very efficient defences which restricted try-scoring chances.

On 57 minutes New Zealand conjured up their first try after electing to take a scrum rather than a penalty in front of the posts.

The ball was swiftly worked right and replacement Tane Puki did well to suck in two defenders before putting Armyn Sanders clear in the corner. Slade missed the conversion.

That try brought the New Zealanders to life and five minutes later a long counter-attack sparked by a fabulous break by Puki eventually ending in a magnificent try wide on the right for Sanders.

Australia's lead was now cut to a point, 14-13, but they finally managed to break the free in the 77th minute and worked a good field position for centre Anthony Faingaa to land a 20-metre drop goal to give his side important breathing space.

The Australian defence then held firm in a high octane nerve-racking finish, despite New Zealand trying desperately to break it down.

New Zealand coach Keiran Crowley said his team was guilty of too many unforced errors in the first half.

"You just can't afford to give away ball and not take try-scoring opportunities, and Australia made us pay.

"In the second half we fought back well but you cannot afford to give a team like Australia a head start in a final, and they probably deserved the win."

New Zealand captain Victor Vito said the team may have lacked a bit of composure when they went behind.

"We definitely did not take a backward step. We were so close yet so far, but that's rugby."

Australia's coach Phil Mooney said the his team's brilliant start meant "the Kiwis were probably a bit shell shocked. We had the opportunities and grasped them.

"At 14-13 I was a bit worried. They had all the momentum and were winning a lot of penalties but defensively we dug deep and got the drop goal from Anthony Faingaa."

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