IRB Junior World Championships: Semifinal Showdowns

Jeffrey WillemsContributor IJune 17, 2008

South Africa, England, Wales and New Zealand advanced to the semifinals of the Inaugural Tournament after ending on top of their respective pools.

South Africa started their campaign in style with big wins against USA and Scotland, but found life tougher against a physical Samoa team. Watermeyer's try broke the deadlock after the teams had been tied from the first minute into the second half. The Baby Boks now meet England in the semifinals following that team's 18-13 win over a much-fancied Australian team in Pool C decider earlier in the day. England had a similar start to the tournament as the Baby Boks with comfortable wins against Fiji and Canada, and a close game against Australia.

The other semi-final will be between the tournament hosts Wales and New Zealand. Wales had a solid pool stage registering wins against Italy, Japan and France, however the score has not been as flattering as New Zealand's. New Zealand has annihilated their opponents, Tonga, Ireland and Argentina, in the group stages, and look to do the same to the hosts. The only thing that could count against the Kiwis is the fact that they have not been fully tested the way the other semi-final nations have.

Come semi-final day count on South Africa and New Zealand to advance to the final. Both Southern Hemisphere nations have big forwards and exciting backs, which could make for an exciting final.