New signing Rhodri Lewis picked in Wales U20s side to face Spain 

Rob LloydNews

New Scarlets signing Rhodri Lewis has been named in a much-changed Wales line-up to face Spain in Thursday’s second round of Pool A clashes in the U20 World Championship at Athlone Sports Stadium in Cape Town (UK time 1pm).

Lewis starts at scrum-half, while hooker Harry Thomas swaps positions with his Scarlets team-mate Isaac Young, who is named among the replacements.

Head coach Richard Whiffin has made sweeping changes to the side that lost narrowly to New Zealand in the opening match on Saturday with only wing Harry Rees-Weldon, captain Ryan Woodman, second row Jonny Green and back-rower Morgan Morse returning for a second consecutive start.

Wales will be buoyed by their stirring second-half display against New Zealand where they ate into a 21-point deficit to eventually secure a losing bonus point along with a try bonus point to keep themselves in the hunt for a semi-final berth.

“We always felt we would finish the game strongly with the bench we had so we were pleased with that aspect of the game, but we were disappointed New Zealand got three scores ahead of us which included a couple of long range tries – they had a very good skillset which we struggled to deal with at times but it was a really courageous performance to come back into the game,” said Whiffin.

“I thought the changes we made in the second half saw a real impact on the pitch.

“We took two bonus points away from the game, one for a four-try bonus and one for losing within seven points so it keeps us alive in the pool to qualify for the top round of the semis so that is a big focus for us going forward.

“We saw Spain put up a really dogged performance against France – it took France a long time to put them away.

“They have got massive energy and they will cause us problems but we came into the tournament confident that we would challenge in every single game so we obviously now turn our attention to Spain who are next up.

“It was always part of the plan to give as many players as possible a start in the opening two games and I’m confident the boys selected will go out and do a great job.”

Wales U20 v Spain U20, Thurs, July 4; Athlone Sports Stadium, Cape Town, KO 1pm UK

15 Matty Young (Cardiff Rugby); 14 Harry Rees-Weldon (Dragons RFC), 13 Elijah Evans (Cardiff Rugby), 12 Steff Emanuel (Cardiff Rugby), 11 Kodi Stone (Cardiff Rugby); 10 Harri Ford (Dragons RFC), 9 Rhodri Lewis (Scarlets); 1 Ioan Emanuel (Bath Rugby), 2 Harry Thomas (Scarlets), 3 Kian Hire (Ospreys), 4 Jonny Green (Harlequins), 5 Nick Thomas (Dragons), 6 Ryan Woodman (Dragons – Capt), 7 Morgan Morse (Ospreys), 8 Owen Conquer (Dragons RFC)
Replacements: 16 Isaac Young (Scarlets), 17 Jordan Morris (Dragons RFC), 18 Sam Scott (Bristol Bears), 19 Osian Thomas (Leicester Tigers), 20 Will Austin (Sale Sharks), 21 Ieuan Davies (Bath Rugby), 22 Harri Wilde (Cardiff Rugby), 23 Louie Hennessey (Bath Rugby).