WALES have named their side to face Australia in this Wednesday’s (May 30) opening day of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Béziers (20:00 BST).
Cai Evans (Ospreys) starts at fullback, with Rio Dyer (Dragons) and Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets) on the wings. An all-Scarlet midfield features Ioan Nicholas at 12 and Corey Baldwin at 13, alongside a Cardiff Blues combination of fly-half Ben Jones and scrum-half Dane Blacker.
Loosehead Rhys Carre and hooker Iestyn Harris (both Cardiff Blues) are joined in the front row by tighthead Rhys Henry (Ospreys). There is considerable size in the second row, with Bath Rugby’s Rhys Davies and Dragons’ Max Williams each standing over 6’6” tall.
Blindside Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers, pictured) continues in the captaincy role he first took up during this year’s U20 Six Nations, with Dan Davis (Scarlets) and Taine Basham (Dragons) completing the energetic back row.
Three uncapped players are named on the bench: prop Rhys Davies (Scarlets), and two late call-ups to the squad in tighthead Will Davies-King (Cardiff Blues) and back rower Lewis Ellis-Jones (Scarlets).
“Selection has been very difficult, with the entire squad working hard and putting in lots of preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship,” said head coach Geraint Lewis. “Competition for places is strong, but we’ve gone with the team which we feel is best suited to the challenge presented to us by Australia.”
“It’s quite an experienced team, with some players having enjoyed exposure to the Guinness Pro14 this year. Due to our approach during the Six Nations in giving opportunities to the entire squad, we’ve got a strong nucleus of players who are adept and happy at U20 level. Hopefully those experiences can hold them in good stead on Wednesday.”
The Junior Wallabies represent the first of three challenges in Wales’ pool, followed by New Zealand (June 3) and Japan (June 7). “Australia are a formidable rugby nation that always produce talented players,” Lewis said of a team Wales met in the pool stage last year in Georgia. “With the limited footage we’ve seen of them, we know they’re a big side, and from last year’s encounter we’re aware that they present a real challenge with ball in hand.”
Lewis accepted that the weather in the south of France might suit the Australian style of play, but insisted his team were equally looking forward to playing in such conditions. “It’s exciting for us to play southern hemisphere opposition, not least because it’s quite new for most of the squad. It’s what we’re here for: to test ourselves against the best.”
Wales U20 v Australia U20 at the Stade de la Méditerranée will be shown live on S4C, with coverage starting from 19:45 BST.
Wales U20 team to face Australia:
15 Cai Evans (Ospreys)
14 Rio Dyer (Dragons)
13 Corey Baldwin (Scarlets)
12 Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets)
11 Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets)
10 Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues)
9 Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues)
1 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues)
2 Iestyn Harris (Cardiff Blues)
3 Rhys Henry (Ospreys)
4 Rhys Davies (Bath Rugby)
5 Max Williams (Dragons)
6 Tommy Reffell (c) (Leicester Tigers)
7 Dan Davis (Scarlets)
8 Taine Basham (Dragons)
16 Dewi Lake (Ospreys)
17 Rhys Davies (Scarlets)
18 Will Davies-King (Cardiff Blues)
19 Lewis Ellis-Jones (Scarlets)
20 Lennon Greggains (Dragons)
21 Harri Morgan (Ospreys)
22 Ben Thomas (Cardiff Blues)
23 Joe Goodchild (Dragons)
Clayton comeback stuns Van Gerwen
PONTYBEREM darts ace Jonny Clayton pulled off one of the shocks of the Grand Slam of Darts as he came from three legs behind to beat world number one Michael Van Gerwen 5-4 on Sunday (Nov 11).
The 44 year old Welshman looked to be down and out with the score at 4-2 but he never gave up and went on to claim one of the biggest victories of his career.
Van Gerwen has won the last three Grand Slam tournaments and was firm favourite to pick up another win going into the second of their three game group.
Clayton threw first in the first to five legs match but it was the Dutchman who hit the first 180 before going on to break with a 94 checkout.
The world number 17 hit back though and after Van Gerwen missed the bull for a 128 checkout he took out 64 to level the game up.
However, Clayton could not back that up opening up with just 26 in the third leg before Van Gerwen hit 180 and 171 to leave just 16 which he checked out at the second attempt.
The Welshman had an excellent average of 115 at this stage but that was trumped by his opponent, averaging 122.
Van Gerwen then increased his lead with a 16-dart leg but Clayton seemed unfazed.
He hit his second 180 in the fifth leg and checked out on 80 to pull a leg back but a bounce out at the start of the next leg set him back again.
MVG hit another 180 and although he missed a 64 finish he took out double ten to make the score 4-2.
Clayton only opened the seventh leg with a ton followed by a 60 but Van Gerwen did take full advantage hitting a 140 before responding to Clayton’s 60 with a score of 58.
The Welshman then hit 168 to leave himself with just 16 and after Van Gerwen missed on 114 he closed the leg out to make it 4-3.
More low scores in the eighth leg from Clayton looked to put MVG in control but he then missed check outs of 76 and 16 to allow Clayton in to check out with 58 to level the game at 4-4.
Clayton had the throw in the final leg and hit 140 with his second throw before Van Gerwen hit just 97.
The Pontyberem-born Clayton then hit 137 to leave himself with 40 but MVG put the pressure on leaving himself with 74 if Clayton slipped up.
Clayton needed just two darts as he hit double top to secure a memorable comeback victory.
The Welshman said he was ‘Over the moon’ following the win and took to Twitter to thank those who had sent him messages adding: “Made up with that! Incredible to be part of a match like that and then to win it against a class act (Michael Van Gerwen) playing like that is absolutely brilliant.”
Clayton now plays the BDO’s Gary Robson in his last match of the group tomorrow (Nov 13) with qualification for the next round not yet secure.
Trallwm, Trostre and Bwlch through to round three
TRALLWM went through to the third round of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Nov 3) as they beat Pwll Athletic 5-2.
Kris Brown scored a hat trick for the Tigers while other goals came from Rhys Watson and Luke Nicholas.
Carmarthen Stars were knocked out of the Cup as they were beaten 3-1 by Giants Grave. Richard Barnes, Dean Evans and Ross Hudson all scored for the Neath Premier League leaders.
C K Swiss Valley were also knocked out beaten 3-1 at home by Sandfields.
Pontlliw earned their place in the third round with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Pontarddulais Town after their game had finished 1-1 after extra time.
Trostre Sports also eased through to the next round as they thrashed West End United 9-1.
Johnstown also earned their place in the next round of the tournament with a 6-2 win at home to Wern.
Bwlch Rangers came from behind twice to book their place in the third round of the West Wales Cup.
Opponents Penclawdd, who play in Division 1 of the Swansea League, took a two goal lead before Blwch pulled a goal back before half time.
In the second half the Rangers levelled matters only for Penclawdd to retake the lead at 3-2.
However, Bwlch showed their class to score twice more to see themselves into the next round.
Matthew Hughes scored twice for Bwlch while Mathew Williams and Jason Morris were also on target for the victors.
FC Carmarthen bowed out of the competition, beaten 3-1 by Loughor Rovers despite taking the lead in that game.
Seaside’s run in the competition also came to an end as they were beaten 7-3 by last year’s champions Goodwick United.
Dafen bow out to Maltsters
DAFEN Welfare bowed out of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Nov 3) as they were beaten 3-0 by Maltsters Sports.
The Swansea League Division 1 side have won five, lost five and drawn one of their 11 games so far this season and they came up against a Dafen side who have just two wins and three draws from their nine games.
Kyle Morgan, Sam Keefe and Chris Hughes all scored for the visitors while they also did well to keep a clean sheet.
Maltsters’ Gareth Morrell was named as the man of the match for his side following an excellent display.
Dafen will now turn their attentions back to the Premier League and on Saturday (Nov 10) they are away to Evans and Williams.
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