12:25pm Sunday 1st June 2014
By Chris Kirwan
WALES Under-20s head coach Byron Hayward has chosen seven Newport Gwent Dragons young guns in his XV for the Junior World Championship opener against Fiji, declaring it as his "strongest team".
The Welsh youngsters, who finished third in 2012 and second last year, kick off their tournament in Pukekohe near Auckland at 4.35am tomorrow morning.
Wales have no margin for error against the dangerous Fijians after being drawn in a tough group with Ireland and France with only the table-toppers assured of a place in the semi-finals.
They warmed up for the tournament with a 31-19 friendly success against Scotland, a win that was based on an impressive tight game. The same blueprint will be adopted against Fiji.
Tyler Morgan lines up on the wing with Jack Dixon getting the nod at inside centre while Angus O'Brien and Luc Jones are paired at half-back. Lock Joe Davies starts with Scott Matthews and James Benjamin behind him in the back row. Hooker Elliot Dee and fly-half Ethan Davies are on the bench.
Hayward said, "We believe this is our strongest team at the moment. Training has gone particularly well in the last month, with conditioning playing a key part and the warm-up game against Scotland before we left Wales was very useful.
"It's crucial we deliver a disciplined, tactical performance on Monday in order to build momentum for the rest of the tournament.”
Wales team v Fiji: Ashley Evans (Ospreys); Tyler Morgan (Dragons), Steffan Hughes (capt, Scarlets), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Dafydd Howells (Ospreys); Angus O'Brien (Dragons), Luc Jones (Dragons); Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Ethan Lewis (Blues), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys), Joe Davies (Dragons), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Olly Cracknell (RGC), Scott Matthews (Dragons), James Benjamin (Dragons)
Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Callum Lewis (Blues), Benjamin Leung (Scarlets), Ben Roach (Blues), Will Boyde (Carmarthen), Tom Williams (Blues), Ethan Davies (Dragons), Joshua Adams (Scarlets)
The game will be broadcast in its entirity on S4C tomorrow at 9.30pm.
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