Wales U20 are aiming for three straight wins to finish the U20 Six Nations in style tonight as Scotland U20 make the trip to Parc Eirias, kick-off 7.35pm.
Gareth Williams’ men have turned around a campaign that started in really tough circumstances, with a young squad going down to Italy U20 and Ireland U20 in really tough weather conditions at Colwyn Bay and Cork.
There was plenty of criticism for the coaching staff and development pathway on the back of that but the players turned it around with a superb effort in the worst weather conditions of the tournament to overcome reigning World Rugby U20 Championship winners France U20, before England U20 were outplayed at Gloucester last week.
With Wales U20 v Scotland U20 the only game of the weekend going ahead in the U20 Six Nations, it means a win could see the men in red finish March as high as second in the table, a very positive result ahead of the planned World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy this summer.
That win would also extend a run of six straight home victories over Scotland U20, stretching back to the start of the U20 Six Nations 2008, and earn revenge for an away defeat last season as we went down 27-20 in Edinburgh.
For the Scots so far it’s been a competition of fine margins as they sit in fifth place with a win and three losses from their four games, but having not been involved in a scoreline that is more than 12 points apart at full-time.
A 38-26 loss away in Ireland was followed up by a 17-21 defeat at home to England. Then came a 29-30 win out in Italy before a 22-29 loss in France last week, leaving them on the same eight points as Wales, but with one less win.
On the back of pushing Les Bleus all the way last weekend, Scotland head coach Sean Lineen has made just one change to his starting XV as Jack Hill comes in for Gregor Brown at blindside flanker.
Scotland U20: Ollie Smith, Rufus McLean, Matthew Currie, Robbie McCallum, Jacob Henry, Nathan Chamberlain, Roan Frostwick; Thomas Lambert, Ewan Ashman, Mak Wilson, Kieran Watt, Cameron Henderson, Jack Hill, Connor Boyle, Rory Darge (c)
Replacements: Rory Jackson, Alex Maxwell, George Breese, Jamie Campbell, Gregor Brown, Kyle McGhie, Cameron Scott, Jack Blain
There’s a similar consistency to squad selection on the Wales side as Gareth Williams sticks with largely the same side that have overcome France and England over the last two games.
There is just one change to the forwards and backs as Dom Booth starts at hooker, swapping places with Will Griffiths again, while Ioan Lloyd is available as Bristol Bears are without a game and he replaces the injured Jacob Beetham at full-back.
Wales U20: Ioan Lloyd, Frankie Jones, Bradley Roderick, Aneurin Owen, Mason Grady, Sam Costelow, Ellis Bevan; Theo Bevacqua, Dom Booth, Ben Warren, James Fender, Ben Carter, Ioan Rhys Davies, Jac Morgan (c), Morgan Strong
Replacements: Will Griffiths, Callum Williams, Harri O’Connor, Ed Scragg, Gwilym Bradley, Dafydd Buckland, Joe Hawkins, Luke Scully
With the weather seemingly set to be fair at Colwyn Bay for the first time this campaign, it gives Wales a chance to build on the impressive attacking showing led last week by Sam Costelow.
The Scots will likely be a more expansive danger than the directness shown by England last week, with Gethin Jenkins no doubt keen to tighten up the defence in the wider channels which was weak at time in Gloucester.
With the momentum and confidence of the last two wins behind them, Wales will need to make a strong start and take control early on, as Scotland have shown all campaign that they are prepared to stay in the game right to the 80th minute.