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Louie Hennessey

Louie Hennessey of Wales races in to score try against England

Wales U18s give O’Brien plenty of encouragement

Wales U18 head coach Matt O’Brien has been given plenty to ponder after seeing his young side push England U18s all the way at Taunton on Sunday.

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With the home side including several U19 players, Wales were always going to face a stiff challenge, but O’Brien was pleased his side fought back gamely in the second half after trailing 19-6 at the break.

With tries by Louie Hennessey and Lewis Marsh, Wales pegged the score back to 26-20 before England finished with a flurry to register a 37-20 victory. Wales’ remaining points came via Sam Berry with two penalties and a conversion with Harry Wilde also adding a conversion.

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“It was a great start for the campaign against really strong opposition in England. There was lots of good to take out of the game and plenty of learning as well heading into France,” said O’Brien as he now has to trim a squad of 32 down to 26 for the forthcoming Six Nations Festival in Marcoussis.

“Ultimately, I think we just left ourselves too much to do after the first half being quite far behind,” added O’Brien. “The boys showed plenty of character to come back and the subs from the bench made a really good impact so all in all a really positive first experience and hopefully we carry the good stuff into France.

“They had eight Under 19 players but we decided not to play any because we used it as preparation for the tournament in Marcoussis. We knew they were going to have a few but it was a good test for our boys and hopefully it will stand them in good stead for the trip to France.”

O’Brien was impressed in the way his side fought back in the second spell after facing a heavy deficit at halftime.

Lewis Marsh

Lewis Marsh of Wales powers over to score try

“I think the way they doubt with the occasion of their first experience of a capped Test match and the intensity and physicality of the game considering they had not been in that environment before, was really good. There were 25 players who had their first caps, and I think we had some good moments in the game.

“We got the score back to 26-20 at one stage as the boys turned it around in the second half but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough.

“There were some really strong performances and like I said before the game there will boys from outside of the 25 who played against England who come in and get an opportunity.

“We’re carrying a 32-man training squad for Marcoussis but we can only name the 26 to go so the guys who unfortunately don’t make it will be on standby. It’s going to be a difficult selection process but there is a really good group to select from.

“We want to try and give as many as possible the experience and opportunity whilst rewarding playing performances.”

Under-18 Men’s Festival – Marcoussis
Saturday 9 April

Wales v England

Wednesday 13 April

France v Wales

Sunday 17 April

Ireland v Wales

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