Baby Blacks slump to shock U-20 semi defeat
Ardie Savea's Baby Blacks created their own piece of unwanted history as they became the first New Zealand under-20 rugby team to fail to make the final of the world championships.
New Zealand were bundled out of the tournament in the semi-finals today, well beaten 33-21 by England at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, France.
It was a big day for the northern hemisphere with Wales shocking South Africa in the other semi-final earlier today.
The Welsh made the trophy match for the first time after beating the defending champions 18-17 with a last gasp try in the corner to wing Ashley Evans with Sam Davies kicking the sideline conversion.
New Zealand, a four-times champion, couldn't get much going against the stubborn English. They struggled to break down the white defensive wall for long periods.
They produced a strong final quarter to get back into the match but the vulnerability they showed during some patchy pool play came back to haunt them as they lost three-tries-to-two.
The Kiwis were out-muscled at the breakdowns and without that supply of ball, their potent backline was starved for much of the game.
New Zealand scored the first try of the match in the sixth minute when lively hooker Epalahame Faiva got the benefit of an overlap after the ball had been swung wide both ways to stretch England.
But two penalties to Henry Slade kept England in front.
England skipper Jack Clifford set up a superb try when he slipped the tackle of his New Zealand opposite Ardie Savea and fed fellow loosie Matt Hankin for the try between the posts.
Slade's conversion gave England a 13-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Disaster hit the Baby Blacks just before halftime when England wing Anthony Watson picked off a loose pass from centre Jason Emery and sprinted away for the simple try.
A Simon Hickey penalty closed the gap but England went into the break with a commanding 20-8 lead.
Slade and Jade Te Rure traded penalties early in the second half.
Te Rure's introduction off the bench finally gave New Zealand some spark with their attack and Jason Emery eventually crashed over in the corner.
Te Rure kicked a penalty with 10 minutes left to edge New Zealand to within two points.
But England saw off the challenge with hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie crashing over handy to the posts.
There was even time for Slade to add a penalty to ram home England's dominance against the top seeds.
England will play Wales in the final next Monday (NZ time).
England: Matt Hankin, Anthony Watson, Luke Cowan-Dickie tries; Henry Slade 3 con, 4 pen.
New Zealand: Epalahame Faiva, Jason Emery tries; Simon Hickey pen; Jade Te Rure con, 2 pen.