An impressive 28-15 victory over Scotland in their last home match at the North Wales venue in front of a capacity crowd is sandwiched between two Championship losses to date, the narrow 11-6 defeat away to Ireland in the opening round and a disappointing 40-9 loss at the hands of England.
But Head Coach Danny Wilson is confident the young side can learn from that experience and bounce back with a good performance.
“The boys were buzzing after coming out and playing in front of such an enthusiastic home crowd last time around here at Eirias. The support definitely had an effect on their game and experiencing that kind of atmosphere is all part of their progression as young rugby players,” said Wilson.
“We knew this year was going to be tough. We are a young side and it was always going to be a big learning curve. We had a difficult start away to Ireland and although we made progress against Scotland we feel we took a step backwards against England so we are all eager to show what we can do against Italy.
“I couldn't fault the players efforts against a very strong England team, however, we were disappointed with the contact area and our ball retention, too many soft turnovers caused us huge periods of defence and eventually a couple of defensive errors were made under fatigue that cost us in the latter stages of the game ,” he added.
Wilson and his coaching team have refreshed the selection of the side after that heavy defeat. “We’ve made some exciting changes to the side including 17-year-old Jack Dixon who played for the Dragons against Munster on Friday starting in the centre with Nathan Edwards who returns after injury,” said Wilson.
“The changes are based on player performance in the premiership and at training and these players have earned the opportunity with our long term aim of viewing different combinations for World Cup selection.
“We’ve brought Jordan Williams in at full back and Iolo Evans returns on the wing with Rhodri Williams coming in for Jonathan Evans at scrum half. In the back row, Thomas Young and Dan Baker come in for Daniel Thomas and Ieuan Jones. We have to look beyond these games as it’s our chance to build and identify for the world cup the players involved must see this as a key chance to impress and stake a claim for the Junior World Championship squad.
“We went away from our game plan against England and we must bounce back with a good performance on Friday. We’ve had some good training sessions since the trip to The Stoop and we want to put that into practice on the park.”
The side is without Captain Kirby Myhill who has been called back to the Scarlets for their weekend fixture against Northampton, after the region lost two hookers to the senior Wales side that play Italy on Saturday. The captaincy has been handed to flanker Ellis Jenkins who has experience in leadership after captaining Wales Under 18 last year.
Wales beat Italy twice in convincing fashion last season, first 46-15 in the Six Nations, then 56-6 at the Junior World Championship hosted by the Italians.
However, Wilson is taking nothing for granted. “Italy are never a side to underestimate, they are combative and physical and they will be keen to prove a point of their own after we beat them twice last season,” he said. “But Friday is all about us, if we are honest we were poor against Ireland, we played well for 60 minutes against Scotland, but after a drop in standards against England, our aim is to perform well for 80 minutes and if we do that, the result will look after itself.”
WALES UNDER 20:
Jordan Williams (Scarlets); Iolo Evans (Scarlets), Nathan Edwards (Bridgend RFC), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Luke Morgan (Ospreys); Sam Davies (Ospreys), Rhodri Williams (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Jamie Sollis (Dragons), WillGriff John (Blues), Matthew Screech (Blues), Rhodri Hughes (Ospreys), Ellis Jenkins (Blues, Captain), Thomas Young (Blues), Dan Baker (Ospreys).
Replacements: Darran Harris (Blues), Thomas Davies (Blues), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Jack Jones (Ospreys), Ieuan Jones (Dragons), Jonathan Evans (Dragons), Owen Williams (Scarlets) Ross Jones (Ospreys)
For further information please contact Laura Goode Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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