The Junior Wallabies have overcome wet conditions and a second red card in as many matches to storm into the Final of the U20 World Championship with a 34 -13 victory over hosts Argentina.
The dominant Australian outfit scored four tries to the host nation’s one, taking a narrow four-point lead into the break and never looking back despite losing scrumhalf Michael McDonald after he was shown a second yellow card late in the first half.
Junior Wallabies Head Coach Jason Gilmore said: “It was a tough effort by the boys today. To keep Argentina scoreless apart from the penalty try shows the character of the group.
“The forward pack again stood up to the challenge with the backs covering a man down for 50 minutes.
“I’m really proud of the players and staff with the effort they are putting in. But everyone knows we have one more to get,” Gilmore said.
Lightning had stopped play in Rosario earlier in the day, with kick-off in the semi-final delayed by more than half an hour, while heavy rain over the 24 hours prior to kick-off left the ground at the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario heavy underfoot.
The Junior Wallabies drew first blood through the boot of flyhalf Ben Donaldson who slotted a penalty goal in the 11th minute, before Argentina’s Joaquin De La Vega Mendia answered with three points for the hosts when McDonald copped a yellow card for a dangerous tackle midway through the half.
An attacking onslaught from the Australian outfit commenced off the restart and Harry Wilson finished the job for the opening try. A second penalty goal for the Pumitas then clipped the margin back to 10-6.
McDonald returned from his first stint on the sidelines to claim a valiant second try for the Junior Wallabies after capitalising on a Noah Lolesio break, however his renaissance was short-lived after he was shown a second yellow card minutes later and conceded a penalty try when he caught a Pumitas player high as he attempted a try-saving tackle in the corner.
Holding a slender 17-13 lead at the break, the Junior Wallabies were faced with playing out the rest of the match a man down, but their urgency, combined with a herculean defensive effort saw them deliver a stunning second forty minutes where they didn’t concede another point to the hosts.
The Aussies did however add two more tries of their own, with Lachlan Lonergan crossing for the first off the back of a maul, before a turnover from skipper Fraser McReight then saw Donaldson add to his tally with a try to extend the lead to 31-13.
The Junior Wallabies defence was outstanding in the final stages, with backrowers McReight, Wilson and Will Harris pilfering the ball on several occasions and the backs chiming in on several occasions to hold up ball runners and force turnovers.
Donaldson iced the result with a conversion from another turnover and penalty late in the match, taking his personal tally to 19 points to cap an emphatic 34-13 victory.
The Junior Wallabies will now face reigning World U20 Champions France in their first appearance in a World U20 Championship decider since 2010. The Final will be broadcast LIVE at 4.20am AEST on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports on Sunday 23 June.
Junior Wallabies 34 (Harry Wilson, Michael McDonald, Lachlan Lonergan, Ben Donaldson tries; Ben Donaldson 4 cons; Ben Donaldson 2 pens) defeated Argentina 13 (Penalty Try; Joaquin De La Vega Mendia 2 pens)