Hayward: Wales young guns showed their spirit
12:09pm Friday 20th June 2014 in Sport
WALES Under-20s boss Byron Hayward praised the character of his side after they finished the Junior World Championship with a 20-3 success against Samoa.
The young guns responded to a disappointing 19-18 defeat to Grand Slam-winning France with a hard-fought success at QBE Stadium in North Harbour.
Newport Gwent Dragons back row forward James Benjamin scored a brace after Ospreys speedster Dafydd Howells had opened the scoring to earn seventh spot in the tournament.
Wales started the game with tempo and full-back Howells, who was capped against Japan last summer, got the scoring under way with a well-worked try after six minutes.
Samoa got their only points of the game through a penalty for William Talataina Mu after 14 minutes but Wales' dominance at the set piece soon told.
A mistake by the Pacific Islanders at a scrum allowed Cardiff Blues scrum-half Tom Williams to put number eight Benjamin over.
Fly-half Ethan Davies, who is joining Ebbw Vale from Newport, knocked over a penalty to make it 13-3 at the break and Wales kept pressing in the second half.
Their dominant set piece created opportunities but wet conditions meant that several try-scoring chances went begging.
It was all Wales and the win was secured when Benjamin, who scored two tries against Fiji and another against France, scored a pushover try to take his tournament tally to five.
Head coach Hayward said: "The boys played well, stuck to the task in hand and it was important to get the win to finish the tournament.
"It wasn't the easiest of games, Samoa are a good side this year, and our clear dominance in the set-piece wasn't really reflected on the scoreboard.
"However, we scored some good tries and the boys are reasonably happy with the account they gave."
The Welsh youngsters leave New Zealand today with a tinge of regret after losing to Ireland in the group stages after being in a winning position in the second half and after being edged out by France in the tussle for fifth spot.
That defeat to Les Bleus means that they will be in the third pot for next year's competition in Italy, meaning they are certain to have two big teams in their group.
"There are some harsh lessons to take home, for players and management, namely that basic errors at this level will cost you dearly," said Hayward. "However, there are clear positives to draw from our time here too.
"Many players have made huge progress during the course of the tournament. The boys have all worked extremely hard and conducted themselves well."
Wales scorers: tries - D Howells, J Benjamin (2); conversion - E Davies; penalty - E Davies
Samoa scorer: penalty - W Talataina Mu
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