Seventh heaven for young Osprey Evans

Ashley Evans says his time on the IRB Sevens circuit has made him a better player as he prepares to return to the Wales Under 20 fold on Friday evening.


The Ospreys wing was a mainstay of the side which finished as runners up in both the Six Nations and Junior World Championship last year. Since then, he has featured for Wales Sevens in Dubai, South Africa, Las Vegas and Wellington but tonight, he turns out for Byron Hayward's men against England at Kingston Park, Newcastle (kick off 7.45pm).  


It's a crunch encounter for both sides with Wales looking to bounce back from their first Six Nations defeat of this year's tournament against France at Parc Eirias last time out. 


Looking to get back to winning ways, Hayward has made 10 changes to his side. Rotating two thirds of the side could be considered a risk but with experienced backs Evans and Jack Dixon returning to the side, this is arguably the strongest outfit Wales have put out so far. 


"I can't wait to get going - it's another great bunch of boys and it will be great to come back into things on Friday,” said Evans. 


"I've been away for a while but my time with the sevens has benefitted me 100 per cent. It's a lot quicker, I know it's a lot shorter in terms of time, but it puts your skills under so much more pressure and really tests your fitness. It should really help me coming back to fifteen-a-side rugby.”


England and Wales go into tomorrow night's game in second and third place respectively but level on four points apiece. Both teams know a win is vital if they are to keep tabs on France at the top. 


"The more experienced boys will have to try to be good leaders on Friday night,” said Evans. 


"We only lost two of the 10 games we played last year and both of those were to England which cost us a Grand Slam and a World Championship. We're going to have to use our experience to put things right on Friday night. 


"We really want to get a good result after missing out to them last year and a win would be a big morale-booster for the boys. 


"England play in a very similar way to their senior team. They're normally very strong upfront and they like the driving line out. But they've also got some good finishers and their back three are quite sharp so we'll all have to be on our game.”


The last two clashes between Wales and England – the Six Nations decider and the Junior World Championship final – have both gone the way of the men in white. But Hayward's men are determined to reverse that run on Friday. 


"This is a must win game for us. We didn't perform as we know we can against France so it's all about putting that right this week,” said the Wales Under 20 head coach. 



Wales team v England (Friday 7 March, 7.45pm, Kingston Park, Sky Sports):

Afon Bagshaw (RGC); Tyler Morgan (Dragons), Steffan Hughes (capt, Scarlets), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Ashley Evans (Ospreys); Angus O'Brien (Dragons), Tom Williams (Blues); Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Ethan Lewis (Blues), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Dragons), Joe Davies (Dragons), Ben Roach (Blues), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons), James Benjamin (Dragons)


Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Luke Garrett (Dragons), Benjamin Leung (Scarlets), Rob Dudley-Jones (Swansea), Will Boyde (Carmarthen), Luc Jones (Dragons), Luke Price (Ospreys), Joshua Adams (Scarlets)