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Cai Evans

Fly half Cai Evans gave a goalkicking masterclass against Italy

Basham hails Evans the boot

Taine Basham may have stolen the headlines with his amazing hat-trick in Wales U20’s 42-12 win in Italy at the weekend, but the Dragons No 8 was quick to share the plaudits with goalkicker Cai Evans.

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The Ospreys outside half converted the first four of Wales’ half-dozen tries at Stadio Danilo Martelli in Mantua before making way for Sam Costelow. Then the Leicester Tigers man took over and added the next two.

Evans, in his second season in the Under 20 side, took his test tally to 83 points in 11 games with another accomplished performance and will now focus on taking on England in Colwyn Bay on 22 February.

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“Cai is developing into a world class goalkicker and he is easily the best in the competition. We often ask where he is when we are getting ready to leave the training ground,” said Basham.

“He’s still out there doing his practice well after we have all finished and all that extra effort does pay off. He kicked really well once again in Italy and it does make a difference.

“The Italians are very passionate and, if you let them in the game early on, the crowd can get behind them and give them a real boost. We got those three tries in the first half, all of which Cai converted, and that put them under pressure.”

Two of those first-half tries came from the rampaging young Dragon and he added a third early in the second half as Wales went into a 28 point lead. Two more tries flowed before the finish and the bonus-point victory has put the side in a good place ahead of their first home game next week.

England were beaten 35-27 in their opening game in Ireland, but recovered to post a superb 31-19 victory over the French last weekend. They picked up two penalty tries in their five as they bagged a bonus-point against the reigning World Under 20 and Six Nations champions.

“We talked all week about going to Italy and getting the job done. We didn’t take our foot off the gas and, in the end, it was an excellent performance,” said Basham.

“We were disappointed with the result, rather than the performance, in France. Getting a bonus point win against the Italians has set us up for a big game against England in North Wales next week.”

Skipper Dewi Lake believes the manner of the victory in Mantua will have given his side a huge confidence boost before they meet England. Now, at least, they can go into their first home game with all guns blazing.

“We asked the boys to put in a shift after last week’s disappointing loss to France and I couldn’t have asked for any more. I asked them to come out in the first 20 and really go after it, which they did,” said Lake.

“At half-time I asked them to keep the foot on the gas, and we scored three more tries. It was massively important to come back after the loss against France.

“All good teams bounce back after a disappointment and this is going to give us confidence going into the game against England in north Wales.”

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