Wales U20 beaten by New Zealand in 11-try thriller

World Rugby U20 Championship

Wales (13) 34

Tries: Anderson, Hennessey 2, S Emanuel, Page Cons: Wilde, Ford 2 Pen: Wilde

New Zealand (24) 41

Tries: Pledger, penalty, Taele 2, Cribb, Tito-Harris Cons: Simpson 3 Pen: Simpson

Wales began their Under-20 World Championship campaign with an entertaining 41-34 defeat against New Zealand in Cape Town.

It was a record score for Wales against the Baby Blacks while five tries ensured they took two bonus points, despite the defeat.

Louie Hennessey crossed twice while full-back Huw Anderson and 17-year-old Steffan Emanuel also went over at Athlone Sports Stadium.

Wales battled hard throughout and, though an opening victory never seemed likely, they ensured a nervy ending for New Zealand when Macs Page’s 79th-minute try cut the deficit to just seven points.

Xavi Taele scored twice for the young All Blacks, with further scores from Dylan Pledger, Tai Cribb and as well as a penalty try.

Wales played a quarter game with only 14 men, thanks to yellow cards for Osian Thomas and Morgan Morse.

Scrum-half Pledger scored the game’s opening try when he picked off a pass from Wales counterpart Ieuan Davies and had the pace to go over in the corner.

Wales responded swiftly as Dragons full-back Anderson went over after spinning out of a couple of tackles.

After Simpson and Wales fly-half Harri Wilde exchanged penalties, New Zealand stretched their advantage to nine points courtesy of a penalty try.

Thomas was penalised for collapsing a driving maul, with the Leicester lock sent to the sin bin.

Taele then cut inside to score between the posts, but it was Wales had the final say of the first half when Wilde’s fine pass allowed Hennessey to cross near the touchline.

New Zealand responded as Taele charged over for his second try early in the second half, before a short lineout throw saw flanker Tai Cribb power in for another All Black score which looked to have ended the contest.

But Wales dug deep once more, with two of their standout performers combining as Morse fed Hennessey, whose fabulous line and sidestep brought his second try.

Ospreys number eight Morse was swiftly handed a yellow card with a bunker review for a dangerous tackle on Simpson, with Wales relieved to see no upgrade to red.

The entertainment continued, Tito-Harris rounding off a fine move to make it 41-22 before Wales substitute Emanuel gathered Harry Beddall’s chip to score before Page had the final say.

Also in Pool A, reigning champions France comfortably saw off Spain 49-12 earlier in the day.

Wales' youngsters are next in action in round two on Thursday, 4 July, against Spain at Athlone Stadium (13:00 BST), while New Zealand face the French in Stellenbosch (15:30 BST).

Wales U20s: Huw Anderson (Dragons RFC); Harry Rees-Weldon (Dragons RFC), Louie Hennessey (Bath Rugby), Macs Page (Scarlets), Aidan Boshoff (Bristol Bears); Harri Wilde (Cardiff Rugby), Ieuan Davies (Bath Rugby); Josh Morse (Scarlets), Isaac Young (Scarlets), Sam Scott (Bristol Bears), Jonny Green (Harlequins), Osian Thomas (Leicester Tigers), Ryan Woodman (Dragons RFC, capt), Lucas de la Rua (Cardiff Rugby), Morgan Morse (Ospreys).

Replacements: Harry Thomas (Scarlets), Jordan Morris (Dragons RFC), Kian Hire (Ospreys), Nick Thomas (Dragons RFC), Harry Beddall (Leicester Tigers), Lucca Setaro (Scarlets), Harri Ford (Dragons RFC), Steffan Emanuel (Cardiff Rugby).

New Zealand U20s: Sam Coles; Frank Vaenuku, Aki Tuivailala, Xavi Taele, Stanley Solomon; Rico Simpson, Dylan Pledger; Will Martin, Vernon Bason (capt), Josh Smith, Tom Allen, Sam Coles, Liam Jack, Tai Cribb, Matt Lowe.

Replacements: A-One Lolofie, Sika Pole, Logan Wallace, Cameron Christie, Jeremiah Avei-Collins, Riley Williams, Cooper Grant, Xavier Tito-Harris.

Referee: Morne Ferreira

Assistant referees: Takehito Namekwa, Grffin Colby

TMO: Mark Patton