Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Changes for Welsh Under-20s against Samoa

Five faces that didn’t start Wales’ crunch clash with England to end their Under-20s 6 Nations campaign will get their chance to impress against Samoa tomorrow.

The young Dragons’ Junior World Championship assault kicks off against the Southern Hemisphere nation in Nantes, and three players will earn their first starts at this level in what will be a huge fixture if they want to realise their goal of reaching the semi-finals in France.

Dragons’ full back Hallam Amos, Bedwas scrum half Joshua Davies and Blues and Pontypridd wing Owen Jenkins have all impressed enough for a starting berth. Jenkins, son of former Wales hooker Garin, has impressed for the Principality Premiership champions this year and will make his debut for the Under-20s on the right wing.

Amos and Davies were part of the 6 Nations squad that went so close to the Grand Slam, but neither started a match during the campaign that ended in a 28-15 defeat at Parc Eirias that also handed the 6 Nations title to the English on points difference.

In addition, there are three further changes to the team that faced England back in March. Gareth Thomas and Ethan Lewis come in to the front row in place of Nicky Smith and Elliot Dee, while Steffan Hughes returns to the centre.

Head coach Danny Wilson said of his choices: “Team selection is based around performance during training over the past month or so, and also in the knowledge that we want to give players a chance to impress in this competition with five games coming up in 19 days. While we have three new players to the starting line-up, the rest of the side have a lot of experience from the Six Nations.

“We are going into the Samoa game quite blind about the opposition. We have seen the players around the hotel and they seem very big and physical as you would expect. They will be at their freshest and it will require a good performance from us to win.

“Having said that, we have settled in well, have completed a good period of training and now we just need to get that first game underway.”

Wales follow the Samoa clash up with games against Scotland on June 9 and Argentina on June 13, who they beat in the third-place play-off in South Africa last year after semi-final defeat to New Zealand. They will be hoping to have done enough in these three fixtures to again progress to the knockout stages of the event.

Wales squad to face Samoa: Hallam Amos (Dragons); Owen Jenkins (Blues/Pontypridd), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets/Llanelli), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Ashley Evans (Ospreys/Bridgend); Sam Davies (Ospreys/Swansea), Joshua Davies (Dragons/Bedwas); Gareth Thomas (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Ethan Lewis (Blues/Cardiff), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys/Swansea), Carwyn Jones (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Rhodri Hughes (Ospreys/Swansea), Ellis Jenkins (captain, Blues/Cardiff), Daniel Thomas (Scarlets/Llanelli), Ieuan Jones (Dragons).

Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons/Bedwas), Thomas Davies (Blues/Cardiff), Dan Suter (Ospreys/Bridgend), Jack Jones (Ospreys/Rovigo), Sion Bennett (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Rhodri Williams (Scarlets/Llandovery), Harri Evans (North Wales/RGC 1404), Dion Jones (Scarlets/Llanelli).


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