Wales Youngsters Suffer Cruel Defeat At Junior World Champ, But Vow To Learn Lessons From Baby Blacks

It was almost a dream start for Wales at the World Rugby U20 Championships in South Africa, but captain Ryan Woodman insists the team have learned a valuable lesson.

It’s a piece of wisdom, their senior national team colleagues will be familiar with – namely, that when you have a New Zealand team on the ropes you simply have to find a knockout punch.

Wales scored three tries and led 19-5 at one stage in their opening match of the tournament in Paal at the weekend and seemed in complete control.

But the Baby Blacks hit back in the second-half and Wales eventually suffered an agonising one-point defeat, losing 27-26.

“It was hard to replicate the same intensity of the first half in the second because they really came out firing with the elements behind them,” said Woodman.

“We were good with the ball and they did well to keep it away from us. In the end, it came down to a kick.

“I thought we played well and there were plenty of positives to come out of the performance. That said, there is plenty to work on and we are all gutted.”

Head coach Mark Jones saw his side move into a commanding lead through tries from Lloyd Lewis, Dan Edwards and the impressive Morgan Morse.

But New Zealand came storming back with 22 unanswered points, although a late try from Sam Scarfe ensured Wales picked up two bonus points.

Jones, who was in charge for the first time after taking over from Byron Hayward, said: “I’m so proud of their effort. Our line-out was a real weapon, we were dangerous with ball in hand and we finished far stronger.

“We just need to work on nailing the detail in big moments like that 15-minute period just after half-time when we allowed New Zealand to take back momentum.”

Wales now turn their attention to their second match of the tournament, against Japan on Thursday.

There were Welsh winners, however, in the English women’s game as Kelsey Jones, Bethan Lewis, Sisilia Tuipulotu and Lisa Neumann were all in the Gloucester-Hartpury squad that beat Exeter Chiefs 34-19 in the final of the Premier 15s.

They did it in front of a record crowd for a final, too, with 9,668 turning up at Kingsholm which was renamed “Queensholm” for the day.

As Wales’ senior men’s squad continue their preparations for the World Cup with their Vale of Glamorgan training camp, their pool stage rivals Australia have named their captain for the tournament.

The Wallabies have gone for co-captains and will take on Wales with Michael Hooper and James Slipper sharing the role.