Planet Rugby

JWC Preview: Wales v England

22nd June 2013 09:41

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Sam Davies and Jack Clifford

Key to Wales: Sam Davies

The first ever all-northern hemisphere IRB Junior World Championship Final takes place on Sunday as Wales face England in a changing of the guard.

Since the competition's inception in 2008, the Baby Blacks and Baby Boks have dominated, winning the title four times and once respectively.

But after seasons playing second fiddle to their neighbours south of the equator, the tide is finally about to turn ahead of this Anglo-Welsh finale.

Wales and England deserve their spot in the final after defeating South Africa and New Zealand in the semis of what's been an entertaining JWC.

Both the finalists have a player nominated for the Player of the Tournament gong - Welsh fly-half Sam Davies and England number eight Jack Clifford - while New Zealand captain and flanker Ardie Savea completes the trio of players who have shone. Savea is arguably the favourite.

England meanwhile are favourites this Sunday but Wales scrum-half Rhodri Williams says his side have developed a mental toughness that will help them at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes.

"It's a brilliant achievement to reach the final but we are already very focussed on that next challenge which is to win on Sunday," he told wru.co.uk ahead of the showpiece.

"We are not carried away with our progress to date. We had one day of recovery and then we were straight back into our analysis and preparation for the final. We are not over-confident - England beat us convincingly in the Six Nations so we won't be getting ahead of ourselves.

"However, we have shown in this tournament that we have the determination to dig in right to the end and win matches. We are going to need at least the same amount of commitment.

"When we lost to England in the Six Nations, we were distraught and as Ellis (captain Ellis Jenkins) has said throughout this campaign, we don't want to feel like that again. That thought will give us even more motivation to win on Sunday."

Meanwhile, England coaches Nick Walshe and Ian Peel have made two changes from the side that beat New Zealand 33-21 in the semi-final, with Leicester's Tom Price coming in for the injured Elliott Stooke and Wasps prop Alec Hepburn replacing Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi.

Walshe says that Sunday's meeting will be a completely different beast though.

"Wales are an excellent side - as they have shown throughout this competition and we're fully aware that it's going to be a tough game. We did well in the Six Nations to win at their place, but that game will have no bearing on the result," he said.

"We have prepared well, we have recovered well after the New Zealand game - and we're ready for what promises to be an excellent final."

The teams:

Wales: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Ashley Evans, 13 Steffan Hughes, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ieuan Jones, 7 Ellis Jenkins (capt), 6 Jack Jones, 5 Rhodri Hughes, 4 Carwyn Jones, 3 Nicky Thomas, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Dan Suter, 19 James Benjamin, 20 Daniel Thomas, 21 Joshua Davies, 22 Owen Jenkins, 23 Thomas Pascoe.

England: 15 Jack Nowell, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Harry Sloan, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Ben Howard, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Alex Day, 8 Jack Clifford (c), 7 Matt Hankin, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Dominic Barrow, 4 Tom Price, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 18 Tom Smallbone, 19 Harry Wells, 20 David Sisi, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Henry Purdy.

Date: Sunday, June 23
Kick-off: 18:45 local (17:45 BST, 16:45 GMT)
Venue: Stade de la Rabine, Vannes

Other play-off fixtures:

11th Place Play-Off
17:15 - Fiji v USA at Stade Pascal Laporte, Nantes

9th Place Play-Off
15:00 - Samoa v Scotland at Stade Pascal Laporte, Nantes

7th Place Play-Off
15:00 - Australia v Ireland at Stade Henri Desgrange, La Roche-sur-Yon

5th Place Play-Off
17:15 - Argentina v France at Stade Henri Desgrange, La Roche-sur-Yon

3rd Place Play-Off
15:15 - South Africa v New Zealand at Stade de la Rabine, Vannes

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