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Academy stars shine in victory against Wales

8 June 2015

Bath Rugby Academy fly-half Rory Jennings was once again to the fore for England as they held out for a 30-16 win over Wales at the Stadio San Michele to make it two from two in their World Rugby Under 20 Championship campaign.

Tries from fellow Bath Academy player Max Clark, Howard Packman and Stuart Townsend allowed England, captained by Bath's Charlie Ewels, to build a 22-0 lead within half an hour but Wales reduced the deficit, scoring 10 points just before the break. 

Their comeback mounted in the second period until a driving maul and a resulting Sam Skinner try put the game beyond them on the hour-mark and secured the all-important four-try bonus point for the reigning champions.

See video highlights here

England Under 20 Head Coach Jon Callard said: "I thought we played very well in the first half, our game management was good, we played in the right areas and were clinical. In the second half, Wales came out strongly and caused us problems.

"We've achieved what we needed to and that was to win with a bonus point, so credit to the lads and all the management staff who have put in a great stint this week to ensure that everyone was fit and ready.

"We'll work hard in the coming days and by Wednesday we'll be equally prepared to take on France."

Assistant Coach Ian Peel added: "We knew that Wales had a very good set piece – a strong line out and scrum – and that they would come after us in these areas.

"We also knew from the experience of the Six Nations that they were going to make it hard for us to secure the ball at the breakdown.

"There were periods of the game when we were stretched, but the pleasing thing is that the lads are now realising the areas for improvement while on the pitch and are reacting and making changes as they go. We are always looking to develop.

"We have stepped on from where we were in the first game and will be even better for this experience."

A  Jennings penalty put England three points ahead within the first two minutes but some probing Welsh phase-play followed and Aaron Morris was shown yellow for a deliberate knock on.

Regaining their composure, England began taking the game to Wales with 14 men. After wing George Perkins had come agonisingly close, Clark twisted out of the tackle to go over. Jennings added the additional two points from the tee.

A neat Nick Tompkins offload and quick hands from the returning Morris then created the opening for Packman to burst through for England's second 10 minutes later.

Wales made their presence felt with spells of attack but England controlled field position very well, half backs Jennings and Townsend putting on a masterclass in tactical kicking.

When Callard's charges did get possession, they posed problems. Tears had streamed down the face of Lewis Ludlam during the anthems and the Northampton Saint enjoyed another outstanding game.

Skipper Ewels, alongside lock partner Kieran Treadwell, carried tirelessly too and a third try looked likely. Eventually, it was Exeter Chiefs number nine Townsend who landed it, darting over form close range following a quick tap.

A penalty exchange followed, Jarrod Evans slotting Wales' first points of the game before Jennings replied. An opportune steal and score by centre Owen Watkin then gave Wales momentum on the stroke of half-time.

They added a further three points within minutes of the restart via Evans and would have been hopefuly of repeating their Six Nations victory, but it was not to be.

England found themselves absorbing waves of Welsh attack but a well-drilled defensive effort only allowed the team in red to take three more points from the offensive.

An unstoppable maul was the turning point of the half with Skinner touching down and England finished the stronger of the two sides.

It seemed the Exeter Chiefs No. 8 had gone over for a second minutes later but the pass from replacement Piers O'Conor was considered forward.

Though the title defence looks on course, there is no let up in a tough pool and France are England's next opponents on Wednesday in Viadana (kick-off 3.30pm BST, live on BT Sport).

England U20

15 Aaron Morris (Saracens)
14 George Perkins (Saracens)
13 Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
12 Max Clark (Bath Rugby)
11. Howard Packman (Northampton Saints)
10 Rory Jennings (Bath Rugby)
9 Stuart Townsend (Exeter Chiefs)

1. Sebastian Adeniran-Olule (Harlequins)
2 Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie)
3 Paul Hill (Yorkshire Carnegie)
4. Kieran Treadwell (Harlequins)
5 Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, Captain)
6 Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)
7 Will Owen (Leicester Tigers)
8. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs)

Replacements

16 Jack Innard (Exeter Chiefs) on for Jack Walker (66 minutes)
17. Ellis Genge (Bristol Rugby) on for Seb Adeniran-Olule (57 minutes)
18 Ciaran Parker (Sale Sharks) on for Paul Hill (73 minutes)
19. Will Witty (Newcastle Falcons) on for Kieran Treadwell (73 minutes)
20. Josh Bainbridge (Yorkshire Carnegie) on for Charlie Ewels (70 minutes)
21 James Mitchell (Sale Sharks) on for Stuart Townsend (73 minutes)
22 Lloyd Evans (Gloucester) on for Rory Jennings (57 minutes)
23 Piers O'Conor (Wasps) on for Howard Packman (67 minutes)

Scorers

Tries: Clark, Packman, Townsend, Skinner
Conversions: Jennings 3
Penalties: Jennings 2

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