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All to play for in second round of U2O Championship
We look ahead to the second round of pool matches in the World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina as the race for a place in the semi-finals intensifies.
The World Rugby U20 Championship 2019 continues on Saturday with the second round of pool matches. Australia will again get proceedings underway in Santa Fe with their Pool B match with Ireland at 10:30 local time (GMT-3) before hosts Argentina tackle Fiji and 2018 runners-up England meet Italy.
Meanwhile, in Rosario, South Africa will kick things off against Georgia before defending champions France meet fellow day one winners Wales and six-time champions New Zealand meet Scotland.
VIEW #WORLDRUGBYU20S FIXTURES >>
POOL A: FRANCE v WALES
Wales had to put in a huge defensive shift in their opening win over hosts Argentina on Tuesday with Jac Morgan, Dewi Lake and Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler all among the top four tacklers, so it is not surprising to see coach Gareth Williams freshen things up.
Williams has made six changes, including one positional, as Wales look to make it two wins from two with victory against defending champions France at the Racecourse Stadium.
Flanker Iestyn Rees, who impressed when replacing Lennon Greggains against Los Pumitas, earns a starting berth in the back row while Ed Scragg come in for Morgan Jones in the second row.
With Aneurin Owen unavailable after suffering a head injury, Max Llewellyn starts at outside-centre with Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler switching to inside-centre. Scrum-half Harri Morgan will start from the bench due to illness so is replaced by Dafydd Buckland, while Tomi Lewis replaces Rio Dyer on the right wing.
"We’ve been impressed with Iestyn," said Williams. "He was training really well and the hour he had against Argentina I thought he was excellent and I was really pleased with his performance so he has earned his spot.
"The changes help us to keep boys fresh in what is a tough schedule of games. Ed Scragg has been putting his hand up in training and we’re very fortunate with the pool of second-rows that we have got, that it allows us that freshness."
Jordan Joseph, France's hat-trick hero against Fiji, is one of only three players to retain their place in Les Bleuets' starting line-up for this all-Six Nations encounter, the 18-year-old packing down once again at number eight.
In the backs, Antoine Zeghdar moves in one position to inside-centre and Donovan Taofifenua, who got Les Bleuets off to a flying start with a try after 83 seconds on day one, switches from full-back to the left wing. Louis Carbonel, the top point-scorer 12 months ago, gets the nod at fly-half after an influential cameo off the bench.
With the exception of their second U20 Championship meeting in 2009, which ended in a 68-13 win for France, matches between these sides have tended to be low-scoring and relatively tight. Wales won their first meeting, 23-19 on home soil, and then 13-3 in 2014, the same year they lost 19-18 to Les Bleuets in the fifth-place semi-final. Their last meeting was in 2015, when France triumphed 19-10, and since then Les Bleuets have won three of their four meetings in the Six Nations, including 35-20 in February.
Player tracking | You do NOT want to give these three @fijirugby's players space. If they get it, it's a sure five pointer #WorldRugbyU20s pic.twitter.com/xZCrwTz0Wf— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) June 7, 2019
POOL A: ARGENTINA v FIJI
Stung by their 30-25 loss to Wales, tournament hosts Argentina will be desperate to bounce back against a Fiji side that has dangermen all across the back line.
Coach José Pellicena has resisted the temptation to overhaul his starting XV with just two changes made, one in the forwards and one in the backs. Jeronimo Gomez Vara comes into the side at blindside flanker, while fly-half Joaquin de la Vega Mendia gets the chance to impress from the first whistle.
Argentina and Fiji meet for only the third time in U20 Championship history with Los Pumitas having taken the spoils of victory on the previous two occasions, 27-10 in 2009 and 38-12 in 2014.
But Fiji will see this as a game they can win and make just two changes from the starting XV that did so well against defending champions France in round one before going down 36-20. Vilive Miramira gets the nod at blindside flanker after a 12-minute cameo on Tuesday and Simione Kuruvoli takes on the starting scrum-half duties.
POOL B: AUSTRALIA v IRELAND
For the first time in six years, Australia and Ireland go head-to-head at the U20 Championship and this match-up promises to be worth the wait.
The Junior Wallabies took the momentum from their Oceania regional title into the tournament and brushed aside Italy 36-12 in round one, while Six Nations Grand Slam winners Ireland got off to a dream start with a 42-26 win against three-time champions England.
Continuity is the name of the game for both sides in terms of selection with Australia coach Jason Gilmore deciding to keep faith with the starting line-up from their victory over the Azzurrini, while Ireland's line-up only shows two enforced changes. With Azur Allison ruled out, John Hodnett swaps the number seven jersey for number eight with Ronan Watters the new face at openside, while Rob Russell replaces Iwan Hughes at full-back after injury ended his tournament.
Their two previous U20 Championship meetings both came in France in 2013, with Ireland triumphing 19-15 in the pool stages before Australia exacted their revenge in the seventh place play-off, 28-17.
“Ireland had a strong opening match against England. We are looking forward to the game and our boys will be up for another opportunity,” said Gilmore. “We had a solid hit-out against Italy and the group we want to continue building momentum.”
POOL B: ENGLAND v ITALY
Having come unstuck against Ireland in round one – their first pool loss at the U20 Championship since France beat them in 2015 – England need a convincing performance against an Azzurrini side that was slow out of the blocks against Australia.
Discipline will have no doubt been a key message in the build-up from head coach Steve Bates after England conceded two yellow cards and one red in the 42-26 defeat to Ireland in Santa Fe.
Defeat to Italy for the first time in history would signal the death-knell of their chances of making the last four and Bates has reacted by making 10 changes, two of them enforced with Manu Vuniopola ruled out with concussion and Alfie Barbeary having received a five-match suspension for his red card against Ireland.
Props Kai Owen and Alfie Petch join debutant Will Capon in a new front row. Richard Capstick packs down behind them, while Josh Basham and Rusiate Tuima, the nephew of Fiji legend Akapusi Qera, come into the back-row. Sam Maunder gets the nod at scrum-half in a new half-back pairing with Tom de Glanville, with Connor Doherty named at outside-centre while wing Arron Reed and full-back Josh Hodge also come into the side. Fraser Dingwall retains the captain's armband and moves to inside-centre, with second-row Alex Coles, flanker Aaron Hinkley and winger Tom Seabrook starting their second match.
“There are a lot of changes but we’ve picked a team that we know can be really competitive, I want to see the players put in a performance that they are proud of and for everyone to contribute,” said Bates. “We agonised over the first selection and picking this XV has been equally as tough, but this is a strong team and we expect them to play with belief and confidence and play the sort of rugby we saw at times against Ireland but with a bit more consistency and discipline.”
Italy revamp their backline with winger Michael Mba, who was given few opportunities to show his class against Australia, the only player to retain his place. Lorenzo Citton and Giacomo Da Re form the new half-back combination, the midfield comprises Giulio Bertaccini and Federico Mori, the nephew of Olympic 400m hurdler Fabrizio, and Cristian Lai and Ange Capuozzo join Mba in the back three.
In the pack, the two changes see Niccolo' Taddia come in at hooker and Antoine Koffi line up at number eight.
POOL C: SOUTH AFRICA v GEORGIA
Junior Springboks coach Chean Roux has opted to keep changes to a minimum as his side look to build on their 43-19 win against Scotland with a fourth straight over against Georgia.
South Africa beat Georgia 38-14 in 2017 in Tbilisi before winning the rematch 33-27 in France last year. The most recent meeting came outside of the competition, in the Western Cape in April, with South Africa taking the honours 58-10.
After losing try-scorer Francke Horn to a tournament-ending shoulder injury, captain Phendulani Buthelezi moves to number eight with Youth Olympic Games participant Celimpilo Gumede filling the openside vacancy and Dylan Richardson stepping in on the blindside. The rest of the team remains unchanged.
With two of the most physical sides in the tournament on a collision course, Roux admits the match won't be for the faint-hearted. “We have played against Georgia two years in a row now and they are definitely physical,” said Roux. “They have probably the best scrum at U20 level, and we need to be ready for that. But we know what to expect from them, and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Georgia, so competitive against New Zealand for the first 50 minutes before losing 45-13, have made six personnel changes and one positional for the match in Rosario.
Luka Azariashvili moves from tight-head to loose-head prop and is joined in the front-row by hooker Vano Karkadze, already capped at test level, and Ghia Kharaishvili, who are both promoted from the bench. Ioane Iashagashvili and Tariel Gvimradze pack down behind them in a new-look second-row but the back-row remains intact.
Lasha Lomidze, who scored three tries in five appearances at last year's U20 Championship, comes into the midfield at inside-centre and Otar Lashki is named on the left wing.
U20s Preview: @AllBlacks U20s v @Scotlandteam U20s, who will win?@KT_Ten10 🎙 "We were dusty against the Georgians.... but there's a lot of confidence there so they won't care!" #WorldRugbyU20s pic.twitter.com/axIcvcnsOM— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) June 7, 2019
POOL C: NEW ZEALAND v SCOTLAND
For their fourth meeting against New Zealand in the last six years, Scotland coach Carl Hogg fields a team showing 12 changes to the one that was so competitive for an hour against South Africa on Tuesday. Only three points separated the sides with 17 minutes to go but the concession of three tries resulted in a 43-19 scoreline in favour of the Junior Springboks.
Second-row Ewan Johnson, Rory McMichael – who switches from wing to outside-centre – and Jack Blain all keep their spots in a side that includes debutant back-row Jack Hill, while wing Lomond MacPherson, fly-half Nathan Chamberlain, scrum-half Murray Scott, props Andrew Nimmo and Will Hurd, hooker Rory Jackson and back-row Teddy Leatherbarrow all make their first starts for the age-grade side. Chamberlain takes over the captaincy with Connor Boyle dropping to the bench.
"We’ve obviously made a number of changes to the side ahead of tomorrow’s match against New Zealand. It will be a real test for us, but the boys who’ve come in will be desperate to make an impact,” said Hogg.
“Playing sides like New Zealand is what the World Rugby U20 Championship is all about and we’ll go into the match-up with a real desire to perform and represent the jersey. Scottish history and sport is about upsetting the odds and we intend to try and do that this weekend.”
New Zealand's line-up is unrecognisable from the one that defeated Georgia 45-12 with second-row Taine Plumtree, winger Etene Nanai-Seturo and centre Quinn Tupaea the only players to retain their places. Nanai-Seturo swaps to the other wing, with All Blacks Sevens player Scott Gregory and Lalomilo Lalomilo joining him in the back three. Kaylum Boshier has already captained New Zealand's cricket team at the ICC U19 World Cup and has been given the same honour for this match.