The Anglo-Welsh age-grade clash takes place at the Recreation Ground in Bath this Friday, kicking off at 21:15 (SA Time)
Finn Carnduff will captain the side for a second week after defeating Italy 36-11 in a Round 1 match-up in Treviso, now leading England into their first home encounter of the tournament when Richard Whiffin’s Wales arrive on Avonside.
On top of his try-and-try assist, Carnduff led Round 1 in breakdown steals (two), cleanouts (five, alongside Craig Wright and Junior Kpoku) and lineout takes (nine), and will be providing the back-row ballast alongside Henry Pollock and Nathan Michelow.
Saracens’ Michelow captained the team in a warm-up against Bath United in January and earned 30 minutes as a replacement against Italy last Friday, now replacing Zach Carr for his seventh cap in the only alteration to the starting pack.
Ben Redshaw moves further infield to partner Newcastle Falcons' clubmate Ollie Spencer in the centres replacing injured Harlequins midfielders Sean Kerr and Ben Waghorn. Ioan Jones assumes the 15 shirt for his first U20 start.
Twelve newly-capped pathway players were introduced to the U20 level in the encounter against the Azzurrini. This week, Archie McParland of Northampton Saints set for his first U20 bow at the Rec after his late withdrawal from the matchday squad in Treviso. Exeter Chiefs back-row Kane James and Rams RFC’s George Makepeace-Cubitt could also earn their first U20 caps from the replacement bench.
Henry Pollock contributed a hat-trick of tries and assisted England’s fourth via Josh Bellamy to help secure five points at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo, the Northampton Saints flanker also amassing the third-most metres gained (94.4) and fourth-most carries (12) in Round 1.
Elsewhere on the opening night of the 2024 Under-20 Six Nations, Wales took a slender 37-29 victory against Scotland with tries courtesy of Walker Price and Rhodri Lewis contributing to the fourth-quarter turnaround in Colwyn Bay.
Former Bath Rugby stalwart and England Rugby pathway scrum coach Nathan Catt previewed Friday’s game upon his return to Somerset.
“Our U20 Men had a really productive week at Bisham Abbey and that’s been reflected in our output in meetings, skills sessions and on-field training. We have a positive mindset going into Friday,” he stated.
“Matches against Wales are always special occasions with each side fighting for bragging rights, we expect high intensity from a Welsh team that will feel confident after last week’s result.
“Of course, it’s fantastic to be returning back to Bath where I spent my career as a player and a coach, I’m sure our home support will be eager to cheer us on to another positive result as we look to build momentum into this tournament.”
England U20: 15 Ioan Jones, 14 Toby Cousins, 13 Ben Redshaw, 12 Ollie Spencer, 11 Alex Wills, 10 Rory Taylor, 9 Archie McParland, 1 Asher Opoku-Fordjour, 2 Craig Wright, 3 Billy Sela, 4 Olamide Sodeke, 5 Junior Kpoku, 6 Finn Carnduff (c), 7 Henry Pollock, 8 Nathan Michelow. Replacements: 16 Jacob Oliver, 17 Scott Kirk, 18 James Halliwell, 19 Joe Bailey, 20 Kane James, 21 Ben Douglas, 22 Josh Bellamy, 23 George Makepeace-Cubitt.
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