England name unchanged XV for Junior World Championship final

Nick Walshe has names an unchanged team as England look to defend their title in the final of the Junior World Championship

By Gareth Llewellyn
Maro Itoje will captain England

Nick Walshe has named an unchanged team as England look to defend their title in the final of the Junior World Championship against South Africa in Auckland on Friday.

The reigning champions cruised past Ireland 42-15 to reach a third final in four years, but the England head coach believes there is more to come from his side if they can produce a complete performance against the Baby Boks.

“This is a great opportunity for our guys,” said Walshe. “They have been excellent all trip and have fully deserved to get to where they are. South Africa will be a difficult challenge, but we’re focusing on ourselves.

“We’re putting a real emphasis on performing for the full 80 minutes, we feel that we have played well in patches throughout the tournament but we want to see a complete performance.”

Walshe’s selection decision sees Gloucester-bound scrum-half and tour captain Callum Braley on the bench again with Saracens lock Maro Itoje, 19, set to lead out the team in the iconic Eden Park.

Saracens prop Biyi Alo is the only change among the replacements as he comes in for Harry Rudkin.

South Africa head coach Dawie Theron has made one change to the team that produced a stunning comeback to defeat hosts New Zealand 32-25 in North Harbour with an impressive 78th-minute catch and drive off a lineout.

Bulls versatile back Dan Kriel—twin brother of outside centre Jesse Kriel—comes in on the right wing at the expense of Lloyd Greeff, while flanker Jean Luc du Preez has been passed fit after taking a knock to the head in the Baby Boks’ pool match against the Baby Blacks and replaces Abongile Nonkontwana on the bench.

South Africa’s big weapon lies in outside-half and captain Handré Pollard, playing in his third tournament and second final, along with being the leading point-scorer at this year’s championship and its history.

“I think at the end of the day it is going to be the side that wants it the most that is going to win it,” said Pollard.

“Set-piece is the biggest thing going into the final. I know how 2012 was won: we had 17 lineouts and we won all 17 of them. It is something you can’t go without in a final, the set-piece.

“It is also the conversion rate you have, you have got to get down there and get points, whether it is three, five or seven—just get points whenever you go down to the opposition’s half.”

England U20: Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues); Howard Packman (Northampton Saints), Nick Tompkins (Saracens), Harry Sloan (Harlequins), Nathan Earle (Saracens); Billy Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Henry Taylor (Loughborough University); Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints), Tom Woolstencroft (Bath Rugby), Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie), Maro Itoje (Saracens, captain), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Gus Jones (London Wasps), James Chisholm (Harlequins)

Replacements: Jack Walker (Leeds Carnegie), Alex Lundberg (London Wasps), Biyi Alo (Saracens), Hayden Thompson-Stringer (Saracens), Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs), Callum Braley (Gloucester Rugby), Sam Olver (Northampton Saints), Henry Purdy (Gloucester Rugby).

South Africa U20: Warrick Grant; Dan Kriel, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Sergeal Petersen; Handré Pollard (captain), JP Smith; Thomas du Toit, Corniel Els, Dayan van der Westhuizen, JD Schickerling, Nico Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Vermeulen, Cyle Brink, Aidon Davis.

Replacements: Joseph Dweba, Pierre Schoeman, Wilco Louw, Victor Sekekete, Jean Luc du Preez, Zee Mkhabela, Jean Luc du Plessis, Duhan van der Merwe.

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