Wales miss out in JWC Final

Eyasses score all 15 points as Wales U20 fall at the final hurdle

Wales' Junior World Championship campaign fell at the final hurdle as they were edged out 23-15 by England in a thrilling final in Vannes.


A brace of tries from wing Ashley Evans had given Wales a vast 15-3 half time lead with fly-half Sam Davies, who was named IRB Junior Player of the Year at the final whistle, adding a penalty and a conversion.


Evans pounced on a Davies kick to cross for his first and intercepted a wayward pass to add a second in a dream first half.

Henry Slade's penalty was all England could manage but after the break, they stepped up their game noticeably.


Backs Jack Nowell and Sam Hill crossed for second half tries as the English forwards laid the platform which eventually secured victory. 


Slade converted both scores and added two penalties and despite Wales giving it everything, it was England who were crowned champions.

It was Wales who struck first blood though. Slade had put a penalty effort wide before Evans started and finished a superb Welsh move for the first try of the day.


The Bridgend winger created something out of nothing, running a lovely inside line in a break which took him to the England line. Scrum half Rhodri Williams went close to scoring from the resulting ruck but when the ball was recycled, a Davies cross kick found Evans, who had returned to his right wing position. Evading the tackle of Ben Howard, he dived over in the corner to put his side 5-0 up.


With plenty of men out wide, Davies' decision to go for the kick was a brave one but one which was rewarded spectacularly. The Wales fly half missed the conversion but his side had served notice of their intentions.


After Slade had replied with a penalty for England, the first half settled down into a tactical affair, both fly halves kicking for field position on a regular basis.


Wales' tight defence had been a key factor in them reaching the final and when a big tackle from Jack Jones saw England penalised in midfield, Davies then put his first kick of the day through the posts.


An 8-3 lead was a superb start for Wales but it soon got even better. Evans' first score had seen the winger do all the work but his second was a different story. Inside the England half, a speculative pass from prop Alec Hepburn found the hands of Evans who intercepted with ease. And with a simple run to the line, he went over under the posts for Davies to add the conversion.


Trailing 15-3, England could have been forgiven for feeling a little shell-shocked but their danger remained apparent, only a superb covering tackle from Jordan Williams stopping Howard from making his way to the try line.


But with Ellis Jenkins leading by example in defence, Wales showed they can both score tries and shut out the opposition as they carried their advantage into the break. That they did though, was due in part to some eagle-eyed refereeing.


England's Tom Price crossed almost on the half time whistle but after the decision was referred to the TMO, the try was ruled out. Price's second row partner Dominic Barrow was adjudged to have illegally used his knee in a ruck preceding the try, an action which led to not only the try being disallowed but also to the Leeds man receiving a yellow card.


Jack Clifford's face at the end of the first half summed up a disappointing first 40 minutes from England and with a man light, they faced an uphill battle.


Intelligently, Wales used their numerical advantage in the pack at the start of the second half as they dominated the early territory. Davies skewed a drop goal effort wide and although they didn't extend their advantage, Wales remained on top.


But once restored to a full complement, England were a different proposition. Seconds after coming on, replacement Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi saw a score ruled out before Nowell brushed off the attentions of Rhodri Williams and Davies to cross under the sticks.


Slade converted and with his side buoyant, they soon added a second. The Exeter Chiefs fly-half had dragged a penalty wide but Hill was then teed up to finish off some superb running rugby.


The conversion was added and for the first time, the men in white were ahead.


England's powerful forwards were now carrying noticeably and guided by Slade, they camped themselves in the Welsh half.


Three more points from Slade then made things even harder for Wales and with five minutes remaining, they were left needing a try to draw level.


Sadly, the score failed to arrive and a third penalty from Slade saw Wales just fall short.

Tries: Evans (2); Conversions: Davies; Penalties: Davies
Tries: Nowell, Hill; Conversions: Slade (2); Penalties: Slade (3)

Match report from