Louie Hennessey

PAARL, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 9: Louie Hennessey of Wales celebrates scoring a try with team mates during the World Rugby U20 Championship 2023, 5th Place semi final match between Georgia and Wales at Paarl Gymnasium on July 9, 2023 in Paarl, South Africa. (Photo by World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Wales U20s Deliver Against Gritty Georgians To Battle For Fifth Place Finish

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By Gareth James

Ryan Woodman’s Wales side came good when it mattered as they piled on six tries in an impressive 40-21 win over Romania to set-up a shot at fifth place in the World Rugby U20 Championship.

The Georgians had impressed everyone by beating Argentina and Italy, as well as pushing host nation South Africa all the way, in their pool matches.

It meant they were guaranteed their highest ever finish at the tournament even before they met Wales for a place in the fifth place final.

They hung in during a tight first half which Wales edged 7-6. Then there was no stopping the Welsh youngsters as they plundered five more tries to earn themselves a clash with Australia in the fifth place final.

Two penalties from the boot of Petre Khutsishvili gave Georgia the lead as they dominated possession early on.

Woodman wanted to use his side’s highly impressive driving line-out to good effect, but twice they tried to score, and twice they failed.

But just before the break Georgia had centre Tornike Kakhoidze sin-binned for a high tackle on Harri Houston. Dan Edwards kicked to the corner and at the third time of asking the line-out worked as hooker Lewis Lloyd rumbled over for Edwards to add the extras.

That made it 7-6 to Wales at the break and they never looked back. No sooner had the second half started than centre Louie Hennessey cut back against the grain to go over for a fine try.
Edwards once again added the extras.

The Georgians hit back with the first of their three tries from a driving maul, Giorgi Mamaiashvili barging his way over. Instead of sparking a major fightback, Wales took the initiative with a brilliant two-try burst from Wales.

Hennessey hacked the ball through before pouncing for his second try, which Edwards once again improved. Then a superb miss-pass move gave Houston the chance to squeeze into the right corner to make it enough space to squeeze in at the right corner to make it 26-11.

Wales went down to 14 men in the 65th minute when Hennessey was sent to the sin bin by Scottish referee Hollie Davidson after she lost patience at the number of penalties were being conceded as Woodman’s men threw their bodies on the line to defend the Georgian drives.

The pressure finally told, and Tamaz Tchamiashvili forced his way over from an attacking lineout drive to bring Georgia to within 10 points. Walles once again responded in the best way possible with Lucas de la Rua going over for his side’s fifth try

With eight minutes remaining De La Rua calmed Welsh nerves with their fifth try of the afternoon. Edwards converted.

The Georgians grabbed their third try when Tornike Kakhoidze scored, but Wales finished with a flourish as Jonathan Westwood ran in try No 6 to complete the second half rout. This time Harri Wilde added the extras.

It means will be able to shoot for fifth place overall when they meet the young Wallabies, who beat New Zealand in their semi-final, 44-35. They had previously beat Fiji, drawn with England and lost to Ireland.

Fifth place would be Wales’ highest finish since they were runners-up in 2013.

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