For the second year in a row, England U20s were able to defeat everyone but New Zealand in the IRB Toshiba Junior World Championship as they went down to a 28-44 defeat in Tokyo today.
England had cantered through the group stages and swept aside South Africa in the semi final but New Zeland were a completely different proposition.
Despite the wet conditions underfoot, New Zealand had enough class to keep a determined England side at bay. Territory and possession looked fairly even but New Zealand were clinical enough to take every chance that came their way.
There was no disgrace in defeat for Mark Mapletoft's side who would probably have beaten any other U20 side in the world on the day but New Zealand were simply too good.
Rory Clegg had to put in a try saving tackle on wing Nafi Tuitavake in the opening minutes and Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples made a similarly important tackle but England took the lead on 7 minutes through a Tom Homer penalty.
It was a good spell for England whose big pack competed well and Ben Youngs almost scampered over in the corner with a great sniping run but couldn't ground the ball and did have a foot in touch after a great cover tackle from full back Robinson.
But Homer extended the lead with a second penalty, this time from long range, to give England real hope on 14 minutes.
However, with the outstanding Aaron Cruden pulling the strings, New Zealand showed great hands in the backs to carve out a crucial opening. One half break and quick ball was enough for Robinson to cross out wide for the game's first try.
England came staight back and Gloucester's Henry Trinder powered into the 22. The ball came back left and Jamie George looked to have wasted the chance as he ignored the unmarked Charlie Sharples outside him.
However, James Gaskell was on hand to claim possession and was awarded a try despite clearly losing possession. England 11-5 up after 19 minutes.
New Zeland were promptly stung into action and a Winston Stanley chip bounced nicely for Zac Guildford who didn't have to break stride to score. Cruden added a penalty and New Zealand took the lead for the first time at 13-11.
Cruden then scored in the corner after a slightly fortuitous break from Shaun Treeby as the centre opened up the England midfield after taking a pass that wasn't intended for him.
Dave Lewis entered the fray for the injured Ben Youngs but was powerless to intervene as a now dominant New Zealand scored again. Robinson made the break, Berny Hall provided support and Cruden scored near the posts.
After a great first quarter, England had been swept aside by three tries in five minutes.
Homer narrowed the gap to 25-14 but was just short with another effort as time ticked away and England went into the break still in touch, just.
England started the second half brightly but paid the price for a loose Homer clearance which gave New Zealand a superb position. Cruden drew the defence and Treeby took a great angle to score untouched.
Shaun Knight came on to aid the muscular effort up front and number eight Carl Fearns powered over from a set scrum to give England hope at 21-32 after 51 minutes and Sharples so nearly won the race to touch down a kick ahead shortly afterwards but couldn't quite ground the ball.
As the game entered the final quarter, Cruden exploited forwards out wide in the defensive line to put Guildford in for his second try to effectively clinch the game.
England so nearly scored a pushover try after a great interception and chip and chase from Charlie Sharples forced a 5m scrum but New Zealand held out and ruthlessly exploited an England turnover for hooker Braydon Mitchell to go over in the corner.
England had the last work when Gloucester scrum half Dave Lewis went over with just a minute or so left to make the score 28-44 but it was too little, too late.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester Rugby scrum half Callum Braley is excited by the challenge of the West Country Derby, and the ex-Bristol man reveals the squad will be giving their all.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.
At the recent London Irish game, personnel from the Imjin Barracks in Innsworth, including Gurkhas, were present, holding a collection to raise funds for ShelterBox to aid relief from the recent Nepal Earthquake Appeal.