7:50am Wednesday 28th May 2014
ASSISTANT coach Richard Hodges believes Wales Under-20s have no margin for error if they are to achieve their target of making the semi-finals of the Junior World Championship, writes Chris Kirwan.
Only the group winners are assured of progress to the semis with the best-placed runners-up joining the three table-toppers to battle for the trophy.
Given that Wales have been pooled with Ireland, Grand Slam-winning France and Fiji they are unlikely to have an impressive positive points difference.
In the Six Nations they beat the Irish 16-0 and lost to Les Bleus 16-10 while past meetings with the Fijians have been tricky affairs.
Two years ago Wales had to work hard for a 44-18 win and in 2011 the Pacific Islanders were triumphant 34-20.
They will push their European rivals hard and it is highly likely that three bruising encounters will leave one team standing.
"Only one team will get out of our group. Nobody is going to get whacked by 50 or 60 points every game," said defence coach Hodges.
"You look at New Zealand and South Africa to both get out of their group (after being drawn with Scotland and Samoa) and England will probably get out of theirs.
"It'll be one going through from ours and we need to set ourselves up for what could well be a winner-takes-all clash against France in game three."
It has been three years since Wales failed to make the semi-finals; they were third at South Africa 2012 and runners-up in France last year.
The squad landed in New Zealand on Monday and are now preparing for their tournament opener against Fiji, which kicks off early on Monday morning.
Wales' fixtures: Fiji – June 2, Ireland – June 6, France – June 10
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