World Rugby U20: England off to a flier

England began their defence of the World Rugby U20 Championship by hammering Samoa 74-17 in Georgia.

Saracens full-back Alistair Crossdale, Bath No. 8 Zach Mercer, Saracens centre Dominic Morris and Harlequins wing Gabriel Ibitoye all crossed for two tries apiece with Max Malins, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Street and Ciaran Knight also touching down.

Samoa replied with two late scores from Losilosivale Filipo but England head for Sunday’s second Pool A clash — against Wales — on the back of a huge win.

Elsewhere, Tima Faingaanuku grabbed a hat-trick as New Zealand got off to winning start with a 42-20 win over Scotland.

Fraser Renwick, Darcy Graham and Josh Henderson all claimed tries for Scotland but the Baby Blacks ran out clear winners with Asafo Aumua, Dalton Papali’i and Orbyn Leger scores putting them well out of sight by the final whistle.

There was a tighter match between Australia and Wales, in which the young Wallabies side fought back to claim a 24-17 win.

Cameron Lewis opened the scoring for Wales before a magnificent solo effort from last season’s World Rugby Sevens rookie of the year Henry Hutchison ensured Australia led at the break.

The momentum changed hands again when Dane Blacker touched down for Wales but after Harry Johnson-Holmes responded with a try for Australia, Izaia Perese handed off Aled Ward to run in and seal a dramatic victory.

South Africa and France began their campaigns by playing out a thrilling 23-23 draw.

Juarno Augustus forced his way over for the Baby Boks early on but Romain Buros and Florian Dufour scores pushed the French ahead at the interval — Baptiste Couilloud extending the advantage thereafter.

Curwin Bosch and Ntamack exchanged successful kicks before Augustus pounced in injury-time for his second try of the game; Bosch converting to secure an unlikely stalemate.

The final game on the opening day saw Argentina crush hosts Georgia 37-26.

Jaguares forwards Marcos Kremer, Jose Gonzalez and Santiago Ruiz all crashed over before half-time with only 12 points from the boot of Gela Aprasidze keeping Georgia in touch.

Giorgi Kveseladze and Ushangi Tcheishvili both contributed tries to the Georgia cause but they were out-muscled up front with Matias Sauze and Bautista Stavile crossing for the visitors in the second period.