Byron Hayward has named his side for tomorrow’s winner-takes-all Pool B clash against Italy at Treviso in the U20 Six Nations Summer Series. (KO 7pm UK)
Both sides go into the match unbeaten with victories over Georgia and Scotland and know whoever claims the honours at Stadio Monigo will play off for the title against the winners of Pool A.
There are two changes in the pack and a positional switch for Dragons RFC’s Ryan Woodman who moves from blindside flanker to No. 8 to accommodate Aberavon’s Ben Williams who earns his first start after coming off the bench against Georgia.
Cardiff Rugby’s Efan Daniel’s return to replace Exeter Chiefs’ Oli Burrows at hooker is the only other change in the side that held on to claim victory over Georgia last Thursday.
The Welsh side go into the game on the back of a stunning second half comeback which saw them battered and bruised against a physical Georgian side.
“I thought we fought back well and showed a lot of character in that game,” said Hayward.
“We went in 21-13 down at halftime and were in a battle, that’s for sure. Georgia were a very well organised and physical side so to dig ourselves out of the hole and come back with 17 unanswered points to get us to a 30-21 lead was on the back of good execution to start with, then character and fight to get the victory.
“Speaking to a lot of the players after the game and the days following, they had never experienced playing against a side like Georgia in terms of the physicality before. Some of these boys have played URC and senior rugby in England so it’s a great experience for them.”
Hayward feels the win against Georgia is a measure of how far the group have come since finishing fifth in the Six Nations.
“That was something Joe Hawkins (Wales captain) mentioned post-match. He simply said that in the Six Nations we may not have come back from a deficit like that.
With a home crowd behind them, Italy start as favourites but Hayward is optimistic his young side can overturn the defeat they suffered at Colwyn Bay in the Six Nations.
“They beat us in the Six Nations and they beat England so we know how tough it is going to be,” he said.
“They are unbeaten here and they are a very strong side. They have a powerful driving maul which is an area where we have had to focus on to make sure we are better at defending them because a lot of their tries have come from that area of the game.
“We know it is going to be a tough day defensively and I think it is going to be a real proper Test match - a good hard physical game and it could be a one score game either way.”
Wales U20s v Italy at Stadio Monigo, Wednesday 6 July (KO 7pm UK)
15 Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby)
14 Oli Andrew (Dragons RFC)
13 Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby)
12 Joe Hawkins (Ospreys – Capt)
11 Harri Houston (Ospreys)
10 Dan Edwards (Ospreys)
9 Morgan Lloyd (Dragons RFC);
1 Rhys Barratt (Cardiff Rugby)
2 Efan Daniel (Cardiff Rugby)
3 Nathan Evans (Dragons RFC)
4 Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs)
5 Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs)
6 Ben Williams (Aberavon/Ospreys)
7 Ethan Fackrell (Cardiff Rugby)
8 Ryan Woodman (Dragons RFC)
16 Oli Burrows (Exeter Chiefs)
17 Cameron Jones (Ospreys)
18 Adam Williams (Cardiff Rugby)
19 Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby)
20 Morgan Morse (Ospreys)
21 Luke Davies (Llanelli)
22 Josh Phillips (Scarlets)
23 Bryn Bradley (Harlequins)
24 Joe Westwood (Dragons RFC)
25 Iestyn Hopkins (Ospreys)
26 Caleb Salmon (Scarlets)
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