Six Nations 2017: Wales Under-20s coach Jason Strange hails players' maturity

Wales Under-20s
Wales Under-20s' Ben Jones (right) kicked 12 points against Italy Under-20s

Wales Under-20s coach Jason Strange paid tribute to the maturity of his young players after their 27-5 victory in Italy to open the defence of their Under-20 Six Nations title.

Wales face England next at Colwyn Bay on Saturday, 11 February.

"I thought it was a very mature and controlled performance" Strange told BBC Wales Sport.

"There were a lot of nervous players before the game and I don't think that was shown on the field."

Wales had to withstand a fierce Italian start on a muddy pitch at Legnano, conceding the first try before hitting back with tries from Rhys Carre, Ryan Conbeer and Kieran Williams.

"I'm really pleased with that, we kept our discipline tactically and it sets us up nicely for next week against England," Strange continued.

"The teamwork shown by the players for their first game together stands us in good stead going forward, and the finish by Ryan [for a corner try] was exceptional."

Conbeer made his debut two days before his 18th birthday with around half the squad eligible for a further year at this level; among them Ospreys flanker and captain Will Jones, who earned man-of-the-match.

Media playback is not supported on this device

Under-20 Six Nations: Italy U20 5-27 Wales U20 highlights

"We discussed this before we came out here, we knew Italy are hard to break down and we said victories in the past have been in the seventieth minute," said Swansea University student Jones.

"We cracked them ten minutes after half-time and I think it was comfortable sailing for the boys then.

"The main aim of this campaign, the coaches keep saying, is to develop individually and as a collective unit.

"Personally it was a new experience for me on my debut for the under-20s, definitely a step up."

Wales have several players with previous experience at under-20 level to return, with full-back Rhun Williams on Cardiff Blues duty while scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams and lock/flanker Shane Lewis-Hughes out injured.

Strange, a former Newport, Ebbw Vale and Bristol fly-half, knows England are likely to provide sterner opposition than in 2016, when Wales won 42-16 in Bristol.

"We know England are going to be a huge challenge, they were very strong at under-18 level last year and they've got some exceptional players, but it's one we'll be looking forward to," he said.

"We've got a lot of good players who weren't available (against Italy), but that could be a strength when we come to the World Cup, the players who started all represented the jersey really well."

Top Stories