Wales U20 stumble against England

Tries from Kieron Assiratti and Joe Goodchild plus a powerful scrum were not enough as Wales U20 bravely fought back from a 21-point deficit before succumbing 34-22 to England in Tblisi.

Following an agonising opening defeat to Australia in the World Rugby U20 Championship, Wales had to win to keep alive their hopes of a last four place.

However, England came flying out of the blocks and struck with three converted tries in 24 minutes through Justin Clegg and a Gabriel Ibitoye brace.

It appeared ominous for Jason Strange's side but Assiratti powered over in the final play of the first half and the pack turned the screw in the second.

They earned a penalty try as they dominated the scrum and pushed for a third score but the auld enemy weathered the storm.

Alex Mitchell crossed for England's fourth converted try and Max Malins added a drop-goal to put the victory beyond doubt.

Wales are next in action against Samoa on Thursday, with an earlier kick-off of 10am (BST).

England, who won the toss, kicked-off and played with the wind in the first half. Wales did not hold onto possession for long and England enjoyed a sustained period of pressure before Malins threaded a fine kick into the corner.

Wales enjoyed their first period of pressure after winning a free-kick from a scrum on the half-way line. Dane Blacker tapped quickly and the ball was spread to Ryan Conbeer who tore down the left.

Possession was maintained and Wales went through the phases displaying impressive ball retention. It looked as though they had opened the scoring on five minutes when Robson's chip was hacked on. Blacker appeared to win the foot-race as he pounced under the sticks but television replays showed Llandovery-product Harry Randall had got a hand in first.

Wales were awarded a scrum and their pack earned a penalty, which was duly slotted by Arwel Robson.

England threatened with the ever-impressive Zach Mercer drawing defenders and managing to get the ball away but Wales hung on.

That was until the 10th minute when Clegg was bundled over. Ian Vass' side had been winning the collisions and Ben Earl made major inroads. He found Max Wright in support and the Yorkshire Carnegie centre found the scoring pass from the floor.

Malins converted the effort and he was back at the tee four minutes later as England added a quick-fire second.

This time it was Josh Bayliss that did the damage as he drew two defenders before off-loading out of contact, with a fortuitous deflection to Ibitoye, who pirouetted over.

Malins added the extras from the touchline and Wales were faced with an uphill challenge to get back into the encounter.

Momentum began to swing mid-way through the half when Wales' powerful front row earned a scrum penalty.

Robson kicked to the corner and the ball was secured but they were unable to drive over the line and were penalised two phases later.

England added a third try on 29 minutes as Ibitoye finished acrobatically in the corner, following a half-break by his wing partner Sam Aspland-Robinson. Malins maintained his 100 per-cent strike-rate.

For Wales, nothing would stick. That was typified when Owen Lane burst through the England defence, beating two defenders but was unable to find Blacker in support.

Matters were made worse when captain, Will Jones was sin-binned, perhaps harshly for playing the ball off his feet. Malins was on target once more to open up a 24-3 lead.

On 35 minutes the encounter came to a halt for 10 minutes due to a power cut at the Avchala Stadium, allowing Wales the early opportunity to regroup.

They returned reinvigorated and claimed their first try of the encounter with the last play of the half. Robson dinked a penalty into the corner and Assiratti powered over from a set-play, which saw the Cardiff Blues tight-head peel to the front of the lineout.

Alarm bells were soon ringing in the second half as Malins sent a cross-kick to the corner, it bounced in the in goal area but fortunately Will Talbot-Davies won the foot-race.

Wales were spurred on by a rampaging break by Lane, who bull-dozed through Tom Parton, but the cover defence was too good.

Strange's men remained in the ascent and enjoyed a 10-minute period of dominance after Sean Moore was held up over the line.

The Welsh scrum, which had been so strong throughout the encounter caused England all manner of problems. After three penalty restarts replacement prop Ollie Dawe was shown yellow.

Ralph Adams-Hale returned to the fray but he could do little to help his pack as Wales marched them back over their own line, forcing a penalty try. Due to new laws being trialled the conversion was not necessary, with a penalty try automatically seven points.

Wales continued to grow with confidence and almost claimed a third try when Reuben Morgan-Williams sniped through. With plenty of defenders back, he went on an arcing run before firing a long pass to Ioan Nicholas, who was tackled short.

They hammered at the Red Rose try-line but to no avail and Malins just beat Conbeer to a Robson cross-kick.

England survived unscathed and they displayed a ruthless edge as they hit-back with a fourth try through Mitchell, while Malins kept the scoreboard ticking over with his boot.

Wales refused to throw in the towel and scored a late try through replacement winger Joe Goodchild after second row Callum Bradbury put him in the clear with a well timed pass but it wasn't enough as England held out for the few remaining minutes of the match.

Watch match highlights here 

England: Tries - Justin Clegg , Gabriel Ibitoye (2), Alex Mitchell; Cons - Max Malins (4); Pen - Max Malins; DG - Max Malins
Wales: Tries - Keiron Assiratti, Penalty try*; Joe Goodchild; Cons - A Robson; Pen - A Robson

*Under new laws being trialled at the World Rugby U20 Championship, penalty tries are now automatically seven points.