Samoa were made to work by Hong Kong China as they maintained their 100 per cent start to the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2023, before Scotland and Uruguay also made it two wins from two at Nyayo National Stadium.
Samoa needed two tries in the final 10 minutes against Hong Kong China to maintain their 100 per cent start to the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2023 in Nairobi.
The Pacific Island nation found themselves 22-15 behind in the closing stages, having been reduced to 12 players for five minutes at the start of the second half.
However, late tries from captain John Mata Samuelu and replacement prop Robert Jr. Robertson helped the Pacific Island nation close out a 30-27 victory.
Uruguay and Scotland also made it two wins from two in Pool A. Los Teritos recovered from going 14-0 down against Zimbabwe to run in six unanswered tries to secure a 51-14 victory in Nairobi.
The third match of day two was an equally hard-fought contest in which the USA dominated territory and possession for much of the first half only to lose 40-13. Scotland remain top of Pool A, one point ahead of Uruguay ahead of their meeting on Tuesday.
POOL A – URUGUAY 51-14 ZIMBABWE
Uruguay set up a potential Pool A decider against Scotland with a come-from-behind victory over Zimbabwe at Nyayo National Stadium.
The inaugural winners in of this competition in 2008, Uruguay finished fourth four years ago. In their opening game of the 2023 edition, they earned a last-gasp win against the USA.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, served notice of their potential with a second-half fightback against Scotland in their opening-match defeat, and it was the Junior Sables who struck first here.
From a fourth-minute lineout, a smart one-handed offload in midfield sent number eight Shingi Manyarara charging under the posts.
Uruguay were almost level in the 12th minute after a series of pick-and-goes. But heroic defending from Zimbabwe led to a turnover.
A lack of accuracy continued to let Los Teritos down, and they were made to pay in the 23rd minute when, from another attacking lineout, Zimbabwe spread the ball wide to Edward Sigauke. The winger still had plenty of work to do but he jinked inside then out to touch down in the corner.
Uruguay hit back straight from kick-off when second row Jeronimo Noseda barrelled over from close range.
A penalty kick from Juan Bautista Crisci then made it a four-point game and Uruguay led when Dante Soto came off his wing to pick up a scrappy lineout and burst straight through the Zimbabwe defence.
Zimbabwe, down by a player after illegal contact in the air, continued to look dangerous in possession but Uruguay held out to go in at half-time 17-14 ahead.
After a scrappy start to the second half, Uruguay were awarded a penalty try when Zimbabwe brought down a rolling maul close to the line. Los Teritos would have extended their lead on the hour mark but for a forward pass.
A further Uruguay penalty and a try from centre Guillermo Juan Storace, after a dart from replacement scrum-half Pedro Hoblog, put the result beyond doubt.
With Uruguay’s scrum now completely dominant, another penalty try gave the scoreline some gloss and an intercept effort – Uruguay’s sixth try – from replacement Alfonso Chahnazaroff made it 51 unanswered points and ensured Los Teritos head into their clash against Scotland full of confidence.
POOL A – SCOTLAND 40-13 USA
Scotland continued to look like the team to beat at the U20 Trophy with a six-try win against USA in Nairobi.
In the first round of matches, Scotland ran out comfortable winners despite a second-half comeback by Zimbabwe, while USA were looking to bounce back from a last-gasp loss to Uruguay.
An enterprising USA team had the better of the early exchanges but, in what would be the theme of the first half, failed to capitalise on several line breaks, their favoured offloading game letting them down.
Scotland took advantage to open the scoring when winger Finn Douglas burst over following a rolling maul.
Back came USA, Corbin Smith’s flying finish coming after a break down the short side from dangerous outside centre Aisake Tukuafu. Hugh O’Kennedy added the conversion, then kicked two penalties.
But it was Scotland who edged ahead at half-time, centre Findlay Thomson crashing over after his team laid siege to the USA line from close quarters.
With Scotland starting to take control through their set-piece, scrum-half Ben Afshar twice sniped over off the back of driving lineouts.
An injection of pace from fly-half Andrew McLean gave Scotland a fifth try and the sixth summed up the second half, hooker Corey Tait finishing off another imperious rolling maul.
POOL B – SAMOA 30-27 HONG KONG CHINA
Samoa started day two having never tasted defeat in the pool stage of an U20 Trophy, and it took them less than nine minutes to take the lead against Hong Kong China.
Exciting fly-half Afa Moleli carved a line through the Hong Kong China defence to start a move that ended with Maoaluma Pasa dotting down.
Hong Kong China had been kept scoreless by Spain in their opening match but threatened the Samoan line through Joe Denmark and soon had their first points of the tournament.
Full-back Dylan McCann it was who took an inside pass from centre Max Threlkeld close to the line to add the scoring touch in the 15th minute. McCann missed the conversion but landed a penalty less than four minutes later to give Hong Kong China an 8-5 lead.
It was one they maintained until half-time, and events either side of the break appeared to tip the balance in the Asian side’s favour.
Samoa hooker Alex Lui was shown a yellow card in the 36th minute having brought down a Hong Kong China maul illegally as it rumbled towards the try line.
Their opponents weren’t able to take advantage before half-time but within 20 seconds of the restart Samoa lost another player to the sin-bin as Royce Billy Jr. Umutaua tackled Fritz Mahn in the air.
As both players shown yellow cards were front-rows it meant that for the remaining five minutes of Lui’s initial time in the sin-bin, scrums became uncontested and Samoa were reduced to 12 players.
Hong Kong China capitalised on their three-player advantage, shifting the ball to the right wing where Denmark sprinted into open space and over the line. McCann converted to give his side a 15-5 lead.
Once back up to 14 players, Samoa levelled the scores as Moleli struck a penalty before producing a stunning offload that allowed Christopher Afamasaga to score their second try of the match.
But any hopes that they would streak off into the distance once Umutaua was back on the pitch were dashed in the 52nd minute, when winger Paul Stanley was shown a red card for kicking out as he gathered a high ball.
Hong Kong China needed less than two minutes to cross for their third try, replacement hooker TK Yamauchi coming up with the ball following a powerful lineout drive. McCann again added the extras to leave Samoa 22-15 behind.
That is how the score remained until the final 10 minutes as the match became fragmented. By then Samoa had adjusted to playing with 14 and levelled the scores with eight minutes left as captain Samuelu spun his way over from close range.
Moleli then landed a drop goal to edge Samoa in front before replacement prop Robertson supplied a powerful finish from close range to wrap up a try bonus-point.
There was still time for Hong Kong China to score their fourth try, through Threkeld, to ensure they finished the day with two match points – but not the famous win they had dreamed of.