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England U20s make five changes for Italy

England U20s have named their side to face Italy on Friday evening at the Stadio Peroni, their final U20s 6 Nations game of the campaign.

Despite losing to France on the opening weekend, England could still win the Championship, much like their partners in the senior side. However unlike the senior side, they will require Ireland U20s to beat France in order to retain their title.

In their last outing England beat Wales with a stunning 9 try 67-7 performance, highlight of which you can see here (England U20s highlights), however Head Coach Nick Walshe and his assistant Ian peel have still seen fit to make five change to that side, and a further four positional switches for the 6pm kick off.

Bedford Blues’ full back Aaron Morris is promoted from the bench with Howard Packman moving from full back to wing. Meanwhile Henry Purdy drops to the bench and Zach Kibirigie, scorer of a magical try last week, drops out of the 23 altogether, with Nathan Earle returning to the side on the wing.

Harry Sloan and Nick Tompkins continue their centre partnership but inside them Northampton Saints’ former Oundle pivot, Sam Olver, comes in at fly half, with Billy Burns taking his place on the bench.

Former Cranleigh School star Henry Taylor keeps his place at scrum half after a stunning performance last week, and Callum Braley, who captained the side for the first three games of the tournament, comes back onto the bench for Stuart Townsend after recovering from illness.

In the front row Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, Scott Wilson, and Harry Thacker, fresh from his try scoring heroics last week, remain in the side, with Tom Woolstencroft, Alex Lundberg, and Paul Hill all covering on the bench.

Things have moved about in the back five of the scrum though. Former Harrow Maro Itoje, who has scored in every game and captained the side last week, retains the captaincy but moves from the second row to blindside flanker, with Ross Moriarty moving to the bench.

Ex Millfield lock, Tom Ellis, slides across one in the second row, with Gloucester’s Jonny Hill being promoted from the bench, while former U18 captain James Chisholm comes back into the side at number eight. His return sees Joel Conlon move from 8 to 7, with Gus Jones – who scored four tries last week – dropping out of the squad, while Hayden Stringer retains his place on the bench.

Head Coach Nick Walshe tried to play down any suggestion that Italy might prove an easy opponent, as has sometimes been the case, saying:

“We enjoyed the win against Wales but focus is very much on the task in hand and preparing to play a well-drilled Italy side. There’s no doubt that they have improved over the past couple of seasons and we know that we’ll be in for a tough match.”

In reality though it should be another opportunity for this young England U20s side to flex their muscles, as they have been doing ever since that tough loss to France on the opening weekend.

What have you thought of the England U20s this season – has anyone particularly stood out and made you think that they will be knocking on the door of the senior side soon? Let us know your thoughts below, or via twitter on @FifteenRugbyXV

Italy U20s v England U20s – Friday 14th March, Kick Off 18.00, Stadio Peroni.

England U20s XV v Italy:

15 Aaron Morris (Bedford Blues)  14 Howard Packman (Northampton Saints)  13 Nick Tompkins (Saracens)  12 Harry Sloan (Harlequins)  11 Nathan Earle (Saracens)  10 Sam Olver (Northampton Saints)  9 Henry Taylor (Loughborough University);  1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints)  2 Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers)  3 Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)  4 Tom Ellis (Bath Rugby)  5 Jonny Hill (Gloucester Rugby)  6 Maro Itoje (Saracens, captain)  7 Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs)  8 James Chisholm (Harlequins).

Replacements: 16 Tom Woolstencroft (Bath Rugby)  17 Alex Lundberg (London Wasps)  18 Paul Hill (Leeds Carnegie)  19 Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby)  20 Hayden Thompson Stringer (Saracens)  21 Callum Braley (Bristol Rugby)  22 Billy Burns (Gloucester Rugby)  23 Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers).

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