England have named their side to face Italy in the fourth round of the U20 6 Nations on Friday evening, 7.45pm kick off.
Taking place at Bedford Blues’ Goldington Road ground, the game will be shown live on Sky Sports as England bid for a second victory of the campaign. The young England side lost their opener away to Ireland before a 31-19 victory against the reigning Six Nations and World Champions, France, in round 2. Following that they travelled to Wales where a last gasp try from Wales led to heartbreak and an 11-10 defeat.
Head Coach Steve Bates has made three changes from that side that lost to Wales in Colwyn Bay a fortnight ago. Up front Exeter Chiefs number 8 Rus Tuima earns his first start after previously coming off the bench, that sees Wasps’ Tom Willis, who captains the side again, move to blindside flanker, with Gloucester’s Aaron Hinkley again at openside.
In the second row Worcester Warriors’ James Scott comes in to partner Saracens’ rising star Joel Kpoku, Northampton Saints’ Alex Coles moves to the bench. The front row, meanwhile, is unchanged, Gloucester’s Olly Adkins at loosehead, Sale Sharks’ Nic Dolly at hooker, and Exeter Chiefs’ Alfie Petch at tighthead.
The only change in the backline sees Gloucester’s Tom Seabrook come in at outside centre for the injured Connor Doherty. Seabrook partners Bath youngster Tom de Glanville in the centres, with Sale Sharks’ Kieran Wilkinson providing plenty of experience at fly half alongside Yorkshire Carnegie’s Ollie Fox at scrum half.
The back three is unchanged, Newcastle Falcons’ Josh Hodge at full back with Northampton Saints’ Ollie Sleightholme earning yet another start on the right wing, London Irish’s Ollie Hassell-Collins is on the left.
The bench, meanwhile, sees Northampton Saints’ Samson Ma’asi link up with Worcester Warriors’ Kai Owen and Gloucester’s Jack Bartlett to cover the front row. Alex Coles, as mentioned, covers the second row, with Exeter Chiefs’ Richard Capstick covering the back row.
Capstick’s clubmate Sam Maunder covers scrum half with Saracens’ Manu Vunipola covering fly half, and Gloucester’s rising star Jack Reeves covering the outside backs.
Speaking to www.englandrugby.com ahead of the game, Steve Bates said: “On reflection we had a disappointing result against Wales but we played a lot of rugby in the manner we had prepared to, we just didn’t execute it as clinically as we’d liked.”
“The message to the squad is to continue to believe in what we are doing, be a bit more accurate in the final third and make sure the pressure we are putting on our opponents is turned into some scoreboard advantage.”
“We saw against France in Exeter how much of a part home support can have and the players are all looking forward to taking on Italy in Bedford and we are hopeful it can give us that extra edge over Italy.”
England U20 XV v Italy – Friday, 7.45pm, Goldington Road, Bedford (Live on Sky Sports):
15 Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons), 14 Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), 13 Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby), 12 Tom de Glanville (Bath Rugby), 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish), 10 Kieran Wilkinson (Sale Sharks), 9 Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie), 1 Olly Adkins (Gloucester Rugby), 2 Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks), 3 Alfie Petch (Exeter Chiefs), 4 Joel Kpoku (Saracens), 5 James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 6 Tom Willis (Wasps, captain), 7 Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby), 8 Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs).
Replacements: 16 Samson Ma’asi (Northampton Saints), 17 Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors), 18 Jack Bartlett (Gloucester Rugby), 19 Alex Coles (Northampton Saints), 20 Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), 21 Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs), 22 Manu Vunipola (Saracens), 23 Jack Reeves (Gloucester Rugby).
England U20 Six Nations Fixtures:
Round 1: Ireland 35-27 England
Round 2: England 31-19 France
Round 3: Wales 11-10 England
Round 4: Italy – Friday 8th Mar, 7.45pm, Goldington Road, Bedford (live on Sky Sports)
Round 5: Scotland – Friday 15th Mar, 7.45pm, Franklin’s Gardens (live on Sky Sports)