Australia withstood a late New Zealand fightback to secure a 17-13 victory in the final of the U19 World Championship.
Australia racked up a 14-point lead in 15 minutes, but unlike last week’s pool game which they lost to New Zealand 22-17, this time they withstood the two-try, second-half comeback at Dubai Exiles club.
“We made such a good start that the Kiwis were probably a bit shellshocked,” Australia coach Phil Mooney said. “We had the opportunities and grasped them. But then we got a reality check – we were in a World Championship final after all – and New Zealand came back very hard at us.”
Both of Australia’s tries were scored within three minutes; lock Daniel Linde picked up deflected ball in the backs and went over in the 15th minute, then winger Lachlan Turner beat his opposite to score. Both were converted by flyhalf Christian Lealiifano.
Colin Slade kicked over a penalty – his only success in four goal kicks in all – and New Zealand trailed 14-3 at the break.
New Zealand, trying to win their fifth title since 1999, hit back to make it 14-13 with two tries around the hour mark to winger Armyn Sanders, both times involving replacement Tane Puki in the buildup.
Anthony Faingaa put the finishing touches to Australia’s maiden title with a drop goal three minutes from time.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Mooney said. “And something I said to the boys is this: Hopefully we’ll go on to win this event lots of times in the future, but this team will always be the first.”
Australia – Tries: Daniel Linde, Lachlan Turner. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2). Drop goal: Anthony Faingaa.
New Zealand – Tries: Armyn Sanders (2). Penalty: Colin Slade.
Day 5 results:
Australia 17 New Zealand 14
France 12 England 12
Ireland 20 Wales 15
Argentina 24 South Africa 7
Samoa 18 Scotland 12
Japan 13 Romania 13