New Zealand’s “Baby Blacks” won the world Under-20 title for the fifth time on Saturday with a 21-16 victory over defending champions England.
It was New Zealand’s first triumph since 2011 after they had captured the first four editions from 2008 onwards.
England, the double defending champions, had led 7-0 at one stage after centre Max Clark scored what turned out to be his side’s only try of the game.
Replacement centre Vincent Tavae-Aso helped pull the New Zealanders back into the final with his team’s first try as they went on to carve out a narrow 11-10 lead at the interval.
Powerful No8 Akira Ioane grabbed his team’s second try before he was sin-binned and in a dramatic finale England had a try ruled out when Piers O’Connor was judged to be offside.
New Zealand coach Scott Robertson said he had used history as motivation, reminding his squad of the sacrifices made by the country’s famed 28th Maori Battalion which fought in Italy during the Second World War.
“Our theme was the Italian campaign of the second division, which involved the New Zealand Maori battalion as well, and we used a lot of their themes, when they were in Italy,” he said.
“They fought hard and had their final in Trieste. We used that tonight. We have our dogtags and we fought for the heroes and the fallen before us so it was pretty empowered and it was amazing.”
South Africa’s “Baby Boks” took third place with a four-try, 31-18 win over France.
All of the team’s tries came in the first half through Thomas Du Toit (15th minute), Jason Jenkins (28th) and Dan Duprez (33rd and 39th) as South Africa led 28-8 at half-time.
â€œWe showed good composure to score those tries in the first half after France had led 8-0,” said South Africa coach Dawie Theron.
“We couldnâ€™t find our rhythm and momentum in the second half and the French did well to put us under pressure.
â€œIâ€™m glad we were able to finish the tournament with a win.â€