Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

England Can Beat Kiwis Says Gray; Captain Confident of Win

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

England Can Beat Kiwis Says Gray; Captain Confident of Win

Article excerpt

ENGLAND under-20 skipper Alex Gray claims anything is possible ahead of their IRB Junior World Championship final against New Zealand.

Newcastle Falcons ace Gray and his team-mates take on the "Baby Blacks" in the Italian city of Padova tomorrow hoping to cause what would be a major upset should they go on and lift the trophy.

The enormity of England's task cannot be understated given New Zealand's youngsters have an aura which matches that of their illustrious senior counterparts - not surprising given their record in this tournament Since it was established in 2008, all three Junior World Championship titles which have been contested have ended up in the land of the long white cloud The Baby Blacks have not so much as lost a pool game.

In fact, keeping the score down would appear on the surface to be a moral victory for England as New Zealand have destroyed all who have stood before them in this competition since 2008.

Huge thrashings seem to be the norm for the Baby Blacks and England are fully aware of this given their previous meetings against them.

The two faced each other in the first two finals in 2008 and 2009 with New Zealand easily winning both by scores of 38-3 and 44-28 respectively.

Last year's final saw Australia walloped by a massive 62-17.

With regard to the defence of their title, New Zealand have more than laid a marker having convincingly disposed of Italy (64-7), Wales (92-0), Argentina (48-15) and brushed aside Australia in the semifinal 37-7. England's path to the final has not been as comfortable as their opponents, but showed they have the mettle and skill to be worthy enough to contest this trophy with wins over Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and, in the semi-final, France.

Gray believes the form book can be ripped up if England stick to their gameplan.

Gray, who scored an interception fourth try in the semi-final win over France, said: "We cannot wait for the final - New Zealand have an aura about them but they are not unbeatable. …

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