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IRB Match Day 3 - Match Reports

IRB Match Day 3 - Match Reports
Sunday 15 Jun 2008 [18:42]
Wales 23 - 19 France
Leigh Halfpenny put host nation Wales in to the semi-finals of the IRB Junior World Championship 2008 with a dramatic injury time try to break French hearts at Liberty Stadium in Swansea on Saturday.

France, who were missing injured captain Morgan Parra along with suspended duo Mathieu Bastareaud and Djibril Camara, had led 19-9 before Wales delighted the crowd with a rousing fightback.

First came a penalty try awarded by Australian referee James Leckie as Wales piled pressure on the French defence, then as time appeared to be running out they swung the ball wide where players queued up to score with Halfpenny touching down.

France had not enjoyed the best of starts to this Pool D decider, losing second row Adam Jauhlac to the sin-bin in the eighth minute and while he was off, Halfpenny kicked two penalties for Wales. However fly half Mathieu Belie levelled matters with two penalties.

Then, as France threatened to take the lead, the fly half scuffed drop goal attempts deep inside the Wales half before slotting a third from 30 metres just past the half hour mark.

It had been a fairly uncompromising affair between the sides in the Under 20 Six Nations earlier this year a game which Wales had edged, but only just and when Halfpenny kicked his third penalty in injury time it promised to be another tense second period.

A late tackle from Haydn Pugh earned him a trip to the sin-bin six minutes into the second half and from the ensuing penalty, Belie struck the post and the ball dropped invitingly into the arms of wing Benjamin Fall, who crossed for his pivot to convert.

Belie's penalty after 68 minutes gave France extra breathing space at 19-9, but a yellow card for captain Yoann Maestri 10 minutes later gave the Welsh renewed hope and they were ultimately rewarded for their refusal to accept defeat.

Japan 20 - 24 Italy

Italy came back from what seemed an almost impossible position to win their Pool D match against Japan at the Liberty Stadium and book a place in the 9th-12th play-offs on Wednesday.

It was tough on a plucky Japanese side, who led for much of the game before folding in the final quarter.

It was Italy who struck first, with a penalty from fly half Riccardo Bocchino after six minutes.

Three minutes later, wing Edoardo Rotella crossed in the corner for an unconverted try, and from that juncture, Italy displayed a level of confidence that had been lacking in their opening fixtures against Wales and France.

To their credit, the Japanese showed they were not at the tournament merely to make up the numbers.

They rucked and mauled with great success and were deserving of their 20th-minute try from captain and number 8 Michael Leitch.

Scrum half Shuhei Oshima converted and added a penalty to put Japan in front at 10-8, but a Bocchino penalty after 27 minutes edged the Italians back into the lead.

A yellow card for prop Andrea De Marchi handed Japan a numerical advantage after 25 minutes, but it was not until the loosehead prop returned that the Japanese left their mark, replacement referee Peter Fitzgibbon awarding them a penalty try which Oshima converted.

Leading 17-11 at the interval, the Japanese showed initiative after the break and kicked intelligently for position.

In contrast, Italy were as disjointed as they had been in the midweek defeat by France and despite plenty of possession, rarely looked like scoring.

Oshima made it 20-11 with a penalty just short of the hour, but after a yellow card for hooker Ryuhei Arita, Italy pegged back the lead with a Bocchino penalty.

It set up a thrilling final 20 minutes, during which Japan suffered a second yellow card for replacement Motoki Yamazaki.

While he was off, Italy prop Massimiliano Ravalle bundled his way over for a try, which Bocchino converted, and with a minute left, Bocchino made sure with his fourth successful penalty kick.


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