By Ben Hart in Verona
OLI ANDREW lauded the hard work of centres Joe Hawkins and Mason Grady ahead of Wales’ Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series clash against Georgia on Thursday.
The Welsh flyer returned to full training after a knee injury prior to his side’s Round 1 45-15 win over Scotland and impressed coach Byron Hayward on his return to the team.
He opened the scoring with a fantastic finish inside three minutes, having backtracked to pick up Hawkins’ hurried cross-kick, but admits he was just thankful to have been spotted by his captain.
Asked whether the kick was a pre-rehearsed plan ahead of Thursday’s Round 2 clash, he said: “No it was just off reactions, it was great
“I was calling for it, saw Joe kick and thought, ‘yes, it’s on.’ It worked out, so it was all good.
“I’m very happy with my performance, I can’t ask for more than two tries and a win.
“The scores kept on coming in a dominant first half, with three further efforts before Andrew added his second just after the interval to seal the victory and take Wales top of Pool B.”
Fast starts have been crucial in the Summer Series so far. In three of the four Round 1 matches, the team to score first has gone on to win the tie, and in all four games the half-time leaders have picked up the points.
“Throughout training, Joe especially was saying we need to start early and from there we carried on,” said Andrew.
“We can’t complain with four tries in the first half.”
According to Andrew, experience played a big factor in that bright start. Hayward recalled the Exeter Chiefs and second-row pairing of Christ Tshiunza and Dafydd Jenkins, both of whom missed the U20s Six Nations earlier this year.
Grady too missed out on that campaign and marked his return with a typically physical display in the midfield, leading his for team carries and placing third for metres made.
“The new blood we have has been crucial,” explained Andrew.
“We’ve brought in experience and there has been a good vibe in the changing room ever since we came out.”
Andrew was especially complimentary about the centre pairing of Hawkins and Grady and the work that they do to provide him with space and time on the ball.
“It makes life so much easier playing outside Joe and Mason. I don’t have to do anything,” he joked.
Wales return to action against Georgia on Thursday, who will be looking to bounce back following a 36-19 defeat to hosts Italy. Andrew however, is confident Wales will be the ones celebrating come Thursday evening in Treviso.
“We’ve got to take it into Georgia,” he said. “Same result hopefully. We’re confident.”
The Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series takes place from 24 June – 12 July. Fans can watch every match live. For more information visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJHm6BFw-9JRA1CMekNLwMg