Baby Blacks maintain their dominance with defeat of England

NEW Zealand won a fourth successive junior world rugby championship after beating England 33-22 in a thrilling final last night.

The Baby Blacks have won 20 consecutive matches and never lost in the Under-20 tournament's short history. Both sides scored three tries, but fly-half Gareth Anscombe converted all of New Zealand's and kicked four penalties in a perfect goalkicking effort to lead his side past England for the third time in the final.

England, the Six Nations Grand Slam winners, dominated the first quarter and scored the first try, but New Zealand rallied to lead 23-10 soon after half-time. England closed to within 23-22 near the hour, but New Zealand's defence tightened and fullback Beauden Barrett's 74th-minute try secured the title.

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Winger Christian Wade, despite stepping into touch, opened England's account with the first of his pair in the left corner, then New Zealand had a try disallowed for stepping out following a video replay of winger Mitchell Scott's effort at the opposite end.

After Anscombe's first penalty, New Zealand went ahead in the 26th when it took advantage of an England injury with a quick throw-in and breakout from its 22, finishing with hooker Codie Taylor running in winger Charles Piutau.

Anscombe kicked another penalty from almost halfway, and just before the break, the New Zealand forwards bashed England's in a series of rucks to allow prop Ben Tameifuna to power over.

Another Anscombe long-range penalty early in the second half made it 23-10, sparking England's comeback. An overlap gave prop Henry Thomas a try, then Wade chased a grubber kick from Owen Farrell, dribbled it towards the goal line and twisted to touch down one-handed for his tournament-best seventh try. Fly-half George Ford missed the conversion to put England in front, but Anscombe didn't miss his fourth penalty shot moments later. The result was made certain after centre Limo Sopoaga's chip ahead was scooped by Charles Piutau, who offloaded to Barrett, who kicked it on and beat Ford to the ball. Anscombe converted and was named man of the match.

Meanwhile, Wales took seventh place with a 38-24 victory over Ireland, while in the fifth-place play-off South Africa trounced Fiji 104-17. Australia took the bronze medal with a 30-17 win over France.