Brisbane’s wild winter weather again wreaked havoc with the Universities Rugby League World Cup at Griffith University’s Nathan campus tonight, with drizzling rain again thwarting any chance of an entertaining football spectacle.
Australia firmed into World Cup favouritism courtesy of their hard fought 26-10 victory over a committed Welsh outfit, with the home nation now scheduled to meet England in the Universities World Cup Final on Saturday at Langlands Park.
In the match of the tournament thus far, Wales proved that they are a force to be reckoned with on the international stage, holding their own against a talented Aussie squad for the majority of the match.
Australia converted a glut of early possession into points thanks to the sublime of skills of hooker Brenton Stonier, the nippy number nine scooting his way over for two dummy-half barge over tries to hand the home side an 10-0 advantage inside the opening twenty minutes.
But Wales hit back with two penalty goals to gun goal-kicking ace Gareth David to reduce the deficit to six, Australia’s ill-discipline seeing them concede their first points against for the tournament.
Elusive Australian five-eighth Brogan Gibson kicked the home side out to a handy 16-4 half-time advantage when he bamboozled the Welsh defence with a try just before the break, and the game looked top be over just after the break when centre Jonathan Crawley finished off a scintillating backline movement to put Australia in control at 20-4.
But Welsh winger Rob Worrincly kept his team in the fight with a typically exciting try, the giant winger weaving his way through five Aussie defenders to reduce the deficit to ten points inside the final fifteen minutes.
However, Australian fullback Matt Church sealed the home sides spot in Saturday’s final with a brilliant solo effort, chipping over Welsh fullback Gareth David and regathering before outpacing the cover defence to score under the posts.
England will battle it out Australia for World Cup supremacy courtesy of their upset 30-22 victory over defending Cup champions New Zealand in tonight’s earlier match.
The Kiwis shot out to an early 10-0 lead in as many minutes thanks to two quick tries to winger Emmanuel Toka, but the England were able to take a slender 14-10 lead into the break courtesy of some fine goal-kicking from English utility Mark McKinley.
The game was all but over when the English crossed for three quick-fire tries midway through the second half, before New Zealand added some respectability with a couple of late four-pointers.
Greece flexed their muscle ahead of Saturday’s Plate final, turning a 16-6 half-time advantage into a comprehensive 28-10 victory over a dogged Irish outfit.
The Greeks unleashed their imposing backline despite the slippery conditions, with five-eighth David Georgiou enjoying a fine game, scoring a match sealing try and booting four goals.
Ireland tried hard but were continuously thwarted by the committed Greek defence, with the boys from Ireland to face off against Scotland at Langlands Park on Saturday.
In the night’s other match, France looked at ease in the Griffith’s fields greasy conditions, moving through to the Plate final courtesy of a 34-4 shutout of a determined Scotland.
The French were always in control of proceedings, with the goal-kicking prowess of French fullback Cedric Oileu pushing the score out to 16-0, before three late tries put the result beyond doubt.
The plucky Scots will now be chasing their first victory of the tournament when they meet Ireland in the seventh versus eighth play-off match on Saturday at Langlands Park while France will meet Greece in the Plate final.
Plate Semi-Finals - Tuesday
Greece 28 (Jessy Argeros, Craig Moustakis, Marcus Brandon, David Georgiou, Michael Giorgas tries; David Georgiou 4 goals)
Ireland 10 (Shaun Quinn, Paul Maloney tries; Danny Pike goals)
France 34 (Florian Bissiere, Bruno Ormeno, Lucas Molina, Bastian Dintilhac, Guilhem Chouvelon tries; Cedric Oileu 7 goals)
Scotland 4 (Evan Rose try)
At Griffith University, Nathan Campus
Greece to play France in the Plate Final, 11.45am, Saturday at Langlands Park
Ireland to play Scotland @ 10am, Saturday at Langlands Park
Cup Semi-Finals – Wednesday
England 30 (Tom Lever, Neil Cherryholme, Nick Walker, Chris Clarke, Mike Johnson tries; Mark McKinley 5 goals)
New Zealand 22 (Emmanuel Toka 2, Danny Meara, Scott Hurrell tries; Scott Hurrell 3 goals)
Australia 26 (Brenton Stonier 2, Brogan Gibson, Jonathon Crawley, Matt Church tries; Drew Dalton 3 goals)
Wales 10 (Rob Worrincly try; Gareth David 3 goals)
At Griffith University, Nathan Campus
New Zealand to play Wales in the Cup 3 v 4 Playoff, 1.30pm, Saturday at Langlands Park
Australia to play England in the Cup Final, 3.30pm, Saturday at Langlands Park
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