Wales U18 are hoping to build on Scotland performance.
Wales U18 head coach Geraint Lewis is looking for his charges to build on their opening U18 International Series performance when they take on Italy at Ystrad Mynach on Tuesday (7.30pm).
Wales beat Scotland 31-30 at St Helens yesterday (Friday), tries from Jim Botham, Joe Goodchild and a brace for centre Corey Baldwin, along with 11 points from the boot of Ben Jones ensuring victory to kick off the 12 day Series. Scotland now play Ireland, also at Ystrad Mynach on Tuesday (5.15pm) in the first of three double headers in ten days.
After leading 28-13 at one stage, Wales spent much of the second half with 14 men after two yellow cards. Scotland came back strongly and the hosts had to dig deep to hold onto a narrow lead in the end.
Lewis said, “It was a tense finish, and we’d been in a similar situation against England a couple of weeks ago so it was good for the boys to come out the other side and grab the victory which I thought we fully deserved.
“We put some good facets of play together, and looked dangerous with ball in hand. We were heavily penalised and had two yellow cards so we surrendered a fair bit of possession and territory so although we made hard work of it we showed good character to come through.”
Lewis is looking forward to Italy providing another challenge for the youngsters on Tuesday.
“We had a number of debutants on Friday, and we’ve had a big turnover in the squad with the different eligibility date but you can’t fault the effort and attitude of the boys and we’re looking for more of that on Tuesday.
“We’re looking forward to playing Italy. Playing different nationalities and different styles of play is what makes international rugby so special and it’s great education for the boys not only to play different countries but to experience preparing for and playing three games in such a short space of time.
“Italy will have a physical pack of forwards but playing on the 3G at Ystrad Mynach will allow us to play some good running rugby as we did on Friday.”
Blues and Pontypridd scrum half Dane Blacker added, “We knew it was going to be a tough game, we showed good defence in the end to close off the game. We’ve been working on our finishing, so it was good to put that into practice.
“We all want to show what we can do during this Series and we’re putting our hands up for selection in training and in each game.
“There is a tour to South Africa in the summer, there are a lot of good players in the squad, so none of us can afford to slip up if we want to make it on that trip.
“We know we’ll have another physical challenge against Italy on Tuesday. We’ll be working hard in training to put in another good performance and hopefully get another win.
“The Wales Under 20s did so well this season, that’s what we’re all aiming for, we’ve just got to do well now for the Under 18s and work our way up, that’s my goal.”
Wales team v Italy:
Carwyn Penny (Exiles/Clifton Coll/Newport HSOB ); Corey Baldwin (Scarlets/ Llandovery Coll), Callum Carson (Ospreys/ Gower Coll/ Gowerton), Ben Thomas (Blues/ Cardiff & Vale Coll, St Peters), Gethin Gibby (Scarlets/ Sir Gar); Ben Jones (Blues/ Coleg y Cymoedd/ Treharris), Connor Tantum (Ospreys/ Porthcawl/ Kenfig Hill); Josh Reynolds (Dragons/ Newport High/ NHSOB), Iestyn Harris (Blues/ Ysgol y Cymer/ Wattstown), Christian Coleman (Dragons/ Newport High/ Gardiffaith), Ben Sier (Blues/ Cymoedd/ Merthyr), Will Griffiths (Ospreys/ Gowerton Comp/ Gowerton), Jim Botham (Sedbergh School/ Exiles), Will Jones (capt, Ospreys/ Gower Coll/ Penclawdd), Charlie Davies (Ospreys/ Gowerton/ Gowerton)
Replacements: Corrie Tarrant (Blues/ Cymoedd/ Pontypridd), Rhys Carre (Blues/Cowbridge Comp), Harri Dobbs (Blues/ Cowbridge/ St Peters ), Rhys Davies (Bath/ Millfield/ Exiles), Lloyd Pike (Scarlets/ Sir Gar/ Llanelli Wanderers), Morgan Morris (Hartpury/ Exiles) Dane Blacker (Blues/Cymoedd / Pontypridd), Joe Goodchild (Dragons/ Coleg Gwent/ Garndiffaith), Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets/ Coleg Sir Gar)