The World Rugby U20 Championship semi final line ups have been decided after a thrilling round of final Group games on Wednesday evening.
Several sides went into the final round with hopes of qualifying, but in the opening games of the day, Ireland and Argentina secured their semi final spots with ease. Ireland beat Georgia 35-7 to make it three wins from three Group A games, a group that also included Wales and New Zealand. Argentina were 39-20 winners over Japan having beaten South Africa and France already.
That meant that in Group A and Group C, the best any side could hope for from there was to qualify as a best runner up. Scotland did well to beat Italy 27-19, their second win of the tournament, but their points total was never going to be enough to see them through to the semi finals, it did confirm their place in the 5th-8th place semi finals (each team will play a semi final and final in this Championship, with all placings from 1st-12th being made).
New Zealand gave themselves a glimmer of hope, coming from behind against a valiant Welsh wide to win 18-17 at the AJ Bell Stadium, their points total of 10 was always going to require one of the later winners to fail to get the bonus point though.
That left two intriguing games in the two 19.45 kick offs. In Pool South Africa and France met at the Manchester City Academy Stadium, where a bonus point win for either side was likely to give them that best runners up place in the semi finals.
The AJ Bell fixture saw the hosts, England, take on Australia. England were theoretically on course to qualify as top seeds, but did need to beat the Australians to do so, while a win for Australia of any sort would take them to the top of the group.
For a while it looked like both might make it, with Australia 13-6 up at half time, but England fought back superbly to win 17-13, taking top spot in Pool B in the process and qualifying for the semi finals as top seeds. You can see our report form that game here: England U20 v Australia U20.
Over at the Manchester City Academy Stadium an absolute thriller was being played out as both France and South Africa secured try scoring bonus points. It was South Africa who made their bonus point count though, running out as the 40-31 victors and therefore sealing that last semi final spot in the process.
All of which means that on Monday evening at the Manchester City Academy Stadium the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship semi finals will be Ireland v Argentina (17.30) and England v South Africa (19.45).
The 5th-8th place semi finals see repeats of games we have already seen, with 5th seeds New Zealand playing 8th seeds Wales at 15.15 at the Academy Stadium, and 6th seeds Scotland playing the Australia side they met a fortnight ago at the AJ Bell (19.45).
The 9th-12th place semi finals will see Georgia play Italy at 15.15 at the AJ Bell, with France v Japan following that game.
The main focus though will of course be on those top two semi finals, with hosts England taking on 2012 champions South Africa and the two surprise packages, Ireland and Argentina, playing for a first shot at winning the title.
This thrilling World Rugby U20 Championship continues, and it only looks set to get even better!
World Rugby U20 Championship Round 3 Results:
Ireland 35-7 Georgia (Pool A)
New Zealand 18-17 Wales (Pool A)
Scotland 27-19 Italy (Pool B)
England 17-13 Australia (Pool B)
Argentina 39-20 Japan (Pool C)
South Africa 40-31 France (Pool C)
World Rugby U20 Championship Fixtures:
Monday 20th June
Ireland v Argentina – Monday 17.30, Manchester City Academy Stadium
England v South Africa – Monday 19.45, Manchester City Academy Stadium
5th-8th Semi Finals
New Zealand v Wales – Monday, 15.15, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Scotland v Australia – Monday, 19.45, AJ Bell
9th-12th Semi Finals
Georgia v Italy v 11th – Monday, 15.15, AJ Bell
France v Japan – Monday, 17.30, AJ Bell
Saturday 25th June – Finals Day
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool A Final Standings|
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool B Final Standings|
|World Rugby U20 Championship – Pool C Final Standings|