Gwent youngsters get chance for Wales under-20s

First published in Wales rugby and football
Last updated

WALES under-20s head coach Byron Hayward has made ten changes to his side for the trip to Newcastle to face England on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).

Experienced backs Jack Dixon and Ashley Evans – who were both part of the side that reached the final of the Junior World Championship last season – return to boost the side, while Tyler Morgan and Angus O'Brien have been handed their first starts on the wing and at outside half respectively after performing well for Newport and Cross Keys in the Principality Premiership.

It is O'Brien's under-20s debut and he gets his chance after returning to full fitness following a leg break in November.

Full back Afon Bagshaw and scrum half Tom Williams are back in the side after impressing against Italy and Ireland in the opening rounds of the Under 20 Six Nations.

Up front, Ethan Lewis starts at hooker, Joe Davies will make his Wales Under 20 debut at lock, partnering Scott Andrews, and in the back row, Ben Roach and Ollie Griffiths will flank James Benjamin at No 8.

Hayward said: "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. "We feel we have selected our strongest available side for this match; this is Jack Dixon's third season of Under 20 international rugby and Ashley Evans has recently added to his Wales Under 20 experience with a stint with Wales Sevens. Angus and Tyler deserve an opportunity to show what they can do, as do forwards Joe Davies and Ollie Griffiths getting their first starts.

"As you would expect, England are a very strong team, they had a good win over Ireland in the last round. However, we are concentrating on our own game and on ensuring our own mind-set is right on Friday night if we are to come away from Newcastle with a positive result. We always knew that we would learn most about our players from the France and England games in this tournament."

Wales team v England: 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 (Ospreys), Will Boyde (Carmarthen), Luc Jones (Dragons), Luke Price (Ospreys), Joshua Adams (Scarlets)

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