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Preview: Under-20s Six Nations Round Three

Preview: Under-20s Six Nations Round Three

Preview: Under-20s Six Nations Round Three

Under-20 Six Nations Championship Round 2, Kingston Park, Newcastle, England 9/2/2018 England U20's vs Wales U20’s England's Gabriel Oghre tackled by Sam Wainwright and Will Griffiths of Wales Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

The players are re-energised after a week’s rest and ready to return for the third round of the Under-20s Six Nations on Friday night.

France and England lead the way in the standings but face tough opposition against two teams seeking their first victories of the Championship.

Elsewhere, an intriguing encounter takes place at Donnybrook as Ireland take on Wales, both having won one and lost one so far.

Click here for the complete Under-20s Six Nations fixture list.

France v Italy
Friday February 23, 6:45pm local time (5:45pm GMT)
Stade Jean-Laville

France racked up nine tries against Scotland in the second round and will be looking to continue the momentum against Italy.

Adrien Seguret scored a hat-trick at Broadwood and Romain N’Tamack notched 20 points himself, but only the former keeps his starting place for Friday night’s match.

After a strong display against the Scots a fortnight ago, with a 69-19 victory, Sébastien Piqueronies has made ten changes to the starting line-up for the clash against the Italians.

Along with centre Seguret, winger Lucas Tauzin, flanker Sacha Zegueur, lock Thomas Lavault and prop Hassane Kolingar are the only men to retain their places in a fresh-looking team.

Alban Roussel comes into the second row for his first start of the Championship, whilst Daniel Brennan returns to captain the side.

The Italians are still hunting for their first Championship victory this year, having narrowly lost out by four points to Ireland in the second round.

The Azzurri played 70 minutes with 14 men after Jacopo Bianchi saw red early on, but a defiant second-half performance saw them finish the game with 34 points on the board.

In this fixture last year there were only five points between the two teams, as France edged out the Italians 18-13 at Stadio Santa Rosa.

Fabio Roselli will take confidence in his team’s performance so far despite the losses, but Piqueronies’ men have been in fine form.

Ireland v Wales
Friday February 23, 7:15pm

Noel McNamara is confident ahead of his Ireland Under-20s side’s clash with Wales at Donnybrook on Friday night.

He has made a few changes to the team that narrowly triumphed over Italy a fortnight ago, bringing in Ronan Kelleher, Jonny Stewart, and James Hume.

McNamara said: “We are progressing well as a team and we have been building week on week.

“Wales bring a new challenge and it is one that the players are very much looking forward to.

“We took our foot off the pedal in the second half against Italy, so we’ll be looking for a more sustained performance this Friday.”

Wales, in turn, have rung in the changes ahead of the trip to Donnybrook, with head coach Jason Strange hoping for an improvement from their loss against England last time out.

Four players are set to make their first start for Wales as centre Max Llewelleyn, winger Tommy Rogers, lock Owen Lloyd and prop Josh Reynolds all come into the line-up.

Strange said: “We started the tournament very positively with a good win against Scotland, and while the result was firmly in England’s favour in our last outing, we saw enough to be happy about going forward.

“There’s a very good feeling in the camp, and with players coming in and out of regional rugby, we’ve been able to rotate the squad quite a lot.”

Scotland v England
Friday February 23, 7:30pm

Searching for their first win of the Championship, Scotland take on defending champions England at Myreside on Friday night.

Although suffering a heavy defeat to the French in round two, Stevie Scott has shown faith in his players by only making two changes to the team to face the English.

Martin Hughes comes into the back row whilst Rory McMichael slots in on the wing, and Scott believes there were many positives to take from the last performance.

Scott said: “Against France, our set-piece tightened up a lot, because we struggled with that in our first match against Wales. Our mauls are a positive; that’s definitely a strength for us.

“Towards the end of the France game, the boys showed a bit of fight and that’s what we need to do against England. I’ve said to the boys this week, if there was ever a time to get a reaction, this is the time to do it – at home and against England.”

England look to continue their winning streak after defeating Wales 37-12 at Kingston Park in the second round.

Three players will earn their first England cap on Friday night, with Ollie Lawrence and wings Tom Seabrook and Cadan Murley making their first appearance for their country.

Despite bonus-point victories in both matches so far, England Under-20s head coach Steve Bates believes there are still improvements to be made.

Bates said: “We had a much-improved performance against Wales, but we are still looking to improve in certain areas of our game which we felt did not go quite as well as we would have liked.

“Scotland at home will be dangerous opponents, their previous results are not necessarily an indicator of a side’s potential as it takes a while to get together as a team in this tournament and we’re expecting a spirited performance off them.”