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Scotland Under-20s edge out Australia to set up key England clash

England kicked off with victory over Italy, but who were the other big winners as the World Rugby Under-20 Championships got underway in Manchester?

Scotland provided the major shock of the opening day of the World Rugby U20 Championship with an impressive victory over Australia at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Winger Darcy Graham’s try put Scotland in the lead with just 17 minutes left to play, with Bath Rugby’s Adam Hastings converting for a 15-10 victory for the Six Nations side in the Pool B encounter.
The Aussies were forced to play 35 minutes with 14 men after Campbell Magnay, sent to the sin-bin for lifting flanker Matt Smith above horizontal after just five minutes, picked up a second yellow for a neck-roll early in the second half.
It proved crucial to an Australian side 7-3 up at the break through Izack Rodda’s try after Hastings’ 20th minute penalty, although Mack Mason’s missed penalty kept the lead to just four.
Tighthead prop Zander Fagerson wasted no time in benefitting from the numerical advantage, driving over in the 46th minute for a score before Mason found his range to put Australia into a 10-8 lead.
Graham got through the Australian defence to put the Scots ahead once more, a lead they never relinquished despite immense pressure with Simon Kennewell coming inches from crossing when putting his foot in touch.
Head coach John Dalziel said: “The result is really special and I’m really pleased for the boys as they’ve put in so much work in ahead of the game.
“We went out there expecting to do well against this team. A lot of people may have thought we were the underdogs, but there’s real belief here.
“We’re extremely happy that we got the result – what a start to the tournament – but we’ve got a huge four days turnaround and a lot of work to do.
“Sometimes when you have the man advantage, you start to think the job is done, but we showed a lot of character in that position. Australia threw a lot at us in the last ten minutes, but the character was there and I felt comfortable with our defence.”
Scotland face 6 Nations rivals England in their next pool match on Saturday, who comfortably eased past Italy 48-10 at the Manchester City Academy Stadium.
Jarrod Evans’ missed conversion cost 2015 Six Nations winners Wales in their opening Pool A encounter with rivals Ireland, who came from 17-0 down to win a 26-25 thriller.
Wales raced into a 17-0 lead within 20 minutes as Shaun Evans, Kellan Giles and Reuben Morgan-Williams all crossed.
But Ireland fought back, first Bill Johnston’s drop-goal got them on the board before Adam McBurney and Jakob Stockdale both scored tries before half time.
A Jones penalty extended Wales’ lead to 20-15 before two Johnson kicks put Ireland ahead for the first time and Stockdale’s second score left Wales needing a converted try.
Wales looked to have won it when Giles crossed three minutes from time, but Evans fired wide to give Ireland a thrilling one-point victory.
In the other Pool A match, holders New Zealand, who play Ireland on Saturday, eased to a 55-0 victory over Georgia, scoring nine tries in the process.
Elsewhere, France were unable to capitalise on their 8-6 half-time lead against Argentina, eventually slipping to a 24-15 defeat in Pool C.
Scrum-half Antoine Dupont crossed in the first half, with a penalty try giving them a 15-6 with less than 30 minutes to play.
But two Martín Elías penalties narrowed the gap, with Lautaro Bazán Velez and Bautista Stávile both crossing late on in Manchester to defeat Les Bleus.
France play Japan on Saturday, who were hit for eight tries in a 59-19 defeat to South Africa in the other Pool C opener, despite wing Ataata Moeakiola’s hat-trick giving Japan a 19-14 half-time lead.

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