Five Junior Wallabies who impressed in upset win over New Zealand
By Finn Morton
The Junior Wallabies pulled off an incredible upset on Saturday, leaving New Zealand scoreless in a 24-0 victory at Bond University.
The New Zealanders had previously won the first four instalments of the competition and looked to be on track to make it five after early victories against both Japan and Fiji.
The Australians began the tournament well against Japan but struggled to find their best in a 16-0 win over Fiji, leaving their best performance for the final clash against their Trans Tasman rivals.
Five players in particular lifted the side to a new standard and proved to be the difference in an ideal start to their 2019 campaign.
A consistent player with a high work-ethic and an attitude which says no to pain. Wilson was one of the players of the tournament, but his red headgear wasn’t the only reason he stood out.
The Queenslander set the tone every time he kitted up for the Junior Wallabies. His monster hit in the 19thminute against New Zealand seemed to energise his side and kept the momentum with the men in gold. As we all anxiously sat watching the clock, desperate for that full-time whistle, Wilson was doing anything and everything to help his side gain the upper hand.
While equally as impressive against Japan, it was against our Trans-Tasman rivals where he reminded us that his performances in the NRC were only the tip of the iceberg for the Brothers Blindside. Currently under contract with the Reds senior squad – it’s a matter of time before he makes his Super Rugby debut.
The Brumbies have struggled within the Australian conference as of late but they may have helped unearth a future superstar of Australian Rugby.
Lachlan Lonergan. Remember the name.
His performances for the Australian under 20s were just incredible and at times, it seemed like there were two of him, he was everywhere.
Everything Lonergan did was at full tilt and his effort away from the pill and execution of the basics were impressive. Get excited Brumbies fans.
Some players have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, but it’s what they do to get there that makes them special.
McReight’s two tries within an hour against Japan were a testament to his high work-rate off the ball and his desire to shine in Aussie Gold.
The skipper led from the front all tournament and fittingly capped the campaign by scoring the final try against New Zealand.
Hailing from the famous Randwick club, the classy flyhalf put on complete performances throughout the championship. In the match against New Zealand, Harrison was arguably the difference between the two sides.
While Baby Black’s flyhalf Fergus Burke missed penalty after penalty, Harrison calmly knocked over attempts from all corners of the park and as the clock continued to tick, the scoreboard pressure began to mount.
Harrison recently penned a three-year deal with the Waratahs and you can tell tutorage from Stephen Larkham and time spent training under Bernard Foley has already improved his game.
Lucas donned the fifteen-jersey for all three matches on the Gold Coast and made the most of his return to under age rugby after spending the majority of this year playing with the Reds.
In a competition filled with talent, few would look past Lucas as the player of the tournament.
Arguably the moment of the series came when Lucas pulled off an incredible tackle on New Zealand’s Lalomilo Lalomilo to keep the Baby Blacks scoreless in the 30th minute. A try there could have easily changed the game but Lucas ensured momentum stayed with Australia and the rest is history.
Lucas was just as good in the victories against both Japan and Fiji. Every time he had the ball in hand he appeared to have the defence worried.
Anyone who has watched Lucas through school, at Sunnybank or with the Reds knows the kid is special and his performances in gold last week confirmed that.
Bold prediction: A Wallabies debut in 2020.
But you don’t win an Oceania Championship with only five players. The performances of the whole squad, particularly against New Zealand was incredibly impressive.
The Junior Wallabies will hope to carry momentum from the Oceania Championship into next month’s World Cup in Argentina as they look to become the first Australian side to win the competition.