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Wales must be ready for gear change against French warns Jones

Morgan Morse on the charge for Wales U20

Wales must be ready for gear change against French warns Jones

Mark Jones has warned his players they will have to “go up a few gears” when they complete their pool campaign against unbeaten France at the World Rugby U20 Championships on Tuesday. 

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A six try, 41-19 win over Japan earned them five points to go with the two they secured in the agonising 27-26 defeat to New Zealand. The Baby Blacks were beaten in their second game by France, 35-14, having opened with a 75-12 hammering of the Japanese. 

To stay in the mix for a place in the top four seeds they will need to pick up as many points as possible against the French, who beat them 67-17 in the last round of the U20 Six Nations. The last Welsh win over the Tricolours at U20 level was in 2020, when they beat them 14-11 in Colwyn Bay. 

“Japan really fronted up at the set piece and had the edge for large parts. We knew it would take an 80 minute performance to beat them,” said Jones.  

“We knew the conditions were going to make it difficult and that pressure would lead to mistakes. There is still a lot for us to fix up and we realise we will need to go up three or four gears against France.  

“We know how big a challenge that is going to be, but we are where we wanted to be at the end of the game against the Japanese. The game was going nicely until we had the yellow card, then we had to withstand a lot of pressure.” 

Having taken an early 10-point lead, Wales found themselves trailing 19-15 at the break and didn’t hit the front again until the 65th minute. Then a late flurry of three tries in the final five minutes, after the Japanese had been forced to play with 14 men for the final 32 minutes after having their captain sent-off, added the bonus-point. 

“Those were the worst conditions I’ve ever played in. They did a great job in defence, hitting us with the ball and dislodging it,” said Wales skipper Ryan Woodman. 

“The message at half-time was to keep them in their own half and we managed do that in the second half. We didn’t want the ball because you were likely to make mistakes because it was like a bar of soap. 

“It was all about making them make the errors. The scoreboard doesn’t show how well they played.” 

Archie Hughes was names as man of the match

Scrum half Archie Hughes, who scored the first try of the game, was named man of the match and already has one eye on the crucial match against France on Tuesday.

“It was scrappy at times, and we made a few too many errors that let them into the game. But we showed good character in the end to come through to get the win,” said Hughes. 

“We needed to relax because we were making too many errors at the start. Now we’‘v e got to get ready for what’s going to be a physical contest against the French.” 

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