IN A RATHER disappointing overall Wales U20 display, the performance of former Penarth forward Owen Lloyd stood out as more than adequate as the came on in the second half for his first Wales U20 cap.

The former Stanwell School sixth former, must have ticket all boxes in the book of head coach Jason Strange for his contribution both in the set pieces and the loose in the second half of a hard and physical encounter, as the Welsh battled to stem the advance of the English juggernaut. He must have done enough at Kingston Park in Newcastle, to retain his place against the Irish at Donnybrook, and a good performance on February 23 might secure his place in the Welsh squad for the 2018 U20 RWC in France.

From the early exchanges it was quite clear that the Welsh were going to struggle in contact areas, thanks to the English physicality and pace, with the Harlequins winger Gabriel Ibitoye inflicting additional damage, every time he had the ball.

At half time, coach Strange, must have demanded his forwards to increase their physicality and intensity in contact areas both in attack and defence, while avoiding the kind of soft tackling that enabled the English make easy yards. Indeed, after the break, the Welsh pack became more abrasive, with Lloyd doing the necessary, and increased their punch as well as the pace taking the game to the English.

Owen Lloyd, a product of the Penarth RFC Minis and Juniors started in the U14s age-group coached by Mark Drake and Simon Rees, the current head coach and chairman of youth.

Eventually he joined Penarth youth coached by former Wales B international Colin Laity and Andrew Pyman, and last season, coached by Pyman and Rees, he became a significant factor in a successful Penarth youth campaign, both in the League and WRU Plate when the boys secured the top position in both the League and WRU Plate, and finished runners-up in East District Cup.

His potential was identified early by the Blues talent scouts and he joined the Blues South U16s, as well as the academy during the following summer. He selected by the Blues U18 in his second year and this season, after a few games for Penarth seniors, he joined the Blues Academy, from which he was selected for Wales U20.

The call to join the Wales squad came out of the blue for the youngster who confessed being very nervous prior to the game. “From the kick off on, it became a question of doing my job, right until I came on. I have to confess I enjoyed the game and I felt that it was another step up the ladder and a good challenge.” he told Penarth Times.

Lloyd has let the Seasiders a few weeks ago to join the Blues Academy, and one hopes he will carry on in his promising professional career. Meanwhile the Penarth seniors, without a game since January 20th (when they played Clwb Rygbi) prepare for a trip to the Valleys, at the weekend, (February 17) where they take on Cilfynydd RFC, currently leading the table in Division Two East-Central, of the WRU Leagues.