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Wales name team for U20 Championship opener

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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)

Replacements

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)

Sport

Collins’ stunner earns win for Veterans

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A STUNNING strike from Hakin left back Adam Collins ensured that the Veteran Vikings earned maximum points and remain top of the Welsh Veterans League after a hard fought 4-3 win at home to Coedeva Athletic last Sunday (Feb 17).

However, on a very windy day, the Vikings found themselves behind early on as Gareth Hinwood scored from the penalty spot.

Hakin were soon level though, when Stuart MacDonald set up Matthew Price to score from close range.

Richard Nash gave Hakin the lead scoring via a deflection and Paul Andrews levelled matters for Coedeva before the break, as his shot from distance also took a deflection.

Early in the second half, Michael McCarthy beat the Coedeva keeper to a ball to make it 3-2 from close range and almost immediately, Coedeva were level after another Gareth Hinwood penalty.

Inside the final quarter, a stunning left footed strike from Adam Collins found the top corner from distance to give Hakin the win.

Hakin next play on Sunday, March 3, at home to Swansea University in the semi-final of the Welsh Veterans Cup.

Hakin United: Jason Morgan, Nigel Armstrong, Richard Bland, Nigel Delaney, Adam Collins, Shaun Mills, Richard Nash, Stuart MacDonald, Michael McCarthy, Matthew Price, Leighton Edwards. Subs: Leigh Walters, Simon Rocke, Jamie Phillips, Gary Dawes.

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Saints do the double

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ST CLEARS completed the double over Neyland as they earned a 4-0 win on Saturday (Feb 16).

The Saints, who were forced into a re-shuffle at the back and without one of their midfielders, had beaten them 5-2 at home the previous week and Neyland would have been looking for some revenge.

However, it was the Saints who started strongly and took a deserved lead from a short corner. Jonny Thomas found Steve Thomas unmarked in the box and he headed home.

Both teams had chances to score but Saints keeper James Dickson made a few good saves to keep their 1-0 lead in tact.

The visitors eventually got the second goal of the game following good individual play by Will Evans.

Evans then added his second directly from a free kick to make it 3-0. They then rounded off a good day as Sean Seymour Davies latched onto a long ball to score and make it 4-0.

On Saturday (Feb 23), Neyland are away to Goodwick while St Clears welcome Merlins Bridge.

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Jones’ late drop goal earns win for Blues

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HAVERFORDWEST moved up to second place in League 3 West A on Saturday (Feb 16), as they beat Neyland with a late drop goal.

It was a tight game with both sides battling well but it was the Blues who went ahead early on as Craig Barnett scored a penalty.

Barnett then scored another soon after to put the visitors into a 0-6 lead and it remained that way until the half time whistle.

Early in the second half Neyland were back in it as they scored a penalty to make the score 3-6.

Mark Riley then put Neyland ahead as he was credited with a pushover try but the conversion was missed and the All Blacks led by two points.

Haverfordwest pushed on looking for a winning score and when a try wasn’t forthcoming the ball was sent back to Mikey Jones who kept calm to send a drop goal through the posts.

That put the Blues one point ahead at 8-9 and there was little time for the home side to respond.

The All Blacks do pick up the consolation of a losing bonus point but that will not do much to lift their spirits after they were dropped to fourth in the table following other results.

The Blues now sit second with Aberaeron breathing down their necks having played three games less.

There is no game on Saturday (Feb 23), as Wales take on England at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

The sides return to action on Saturday, March 2, when Haverfordwest host Llanybydder and Neyland host St Davids.

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