Wales ring the changes for Eagles clash
June 2, 2009
Scrum-half Dwayne Peel will partner Nicky Robinson in a new-look half-back pairing © Getty Images
Caretaker coach Robin McBryde has made five changes to the Wales starting line-up for this Satruday's clash with the USA at Toyota Park, Chicago.
A new half-back pairing of Dwayne Peel and Nicky Robinson will start Wales' 600th international rugby match with Gareth Cooper and Daniel Biggar reverting to the bench following their 32-23 victory over Canada last weekend.
Fit again Mark Jones replaces Chris Czekaj on the wing with McBryde keeping faith with the rest of the youthful backline which created so many chances against the Canucks. With injury forcing Bradley Davies out of contention Ian Gough comes into the second row and Gareth Williams is preferred to Richard Hibbard at hooker with the back row remaining unchanged.
Sam Warburton is in line to make his debut from the bench and Luke Charteris, who flew into Chicago on Sunday night as a replacement for Davies, provides second row cover. Jonathan Spratt and Craig Mitchell also figure as replacements and could each win their second international caps.
"We have added some more experience to the back line with Mark Jones recovering from injury and both Nicky and Dwayne deserving their chances on this tour," said McBryde. "It's a particularly tough call on Dan Biggar - it's not often you get a man-of-the-match performance and sit out the next one - but it is not a reflection on his performance, just a matter of giving Nicky the opportunity.
"Ian Gough also brings a wealth of experience to the pack with Gareth Williams handed a chance to show what he can do. We know we have another level in us and want to step up the intensity and improve on the performance from last week.
"We have an opportunity to finish the season on a high by producing the kind of rugby we know we are capable of against USA on Saturday and we are both determined to perform and focussed on the task ahead."
McBryde has resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes and give everyone a chance on tour, with Sonny Parker, Paul James and Josh Turnbull the players not to be used.
"Sonny has been a great tourist and he deserves credit for the contribution he has made to the tour behind the scenes, he answered a last minute call to replace James Hook after he was called up to Lions duty and he has shown his experience as an international rugby player by helping to take some of our younger squad members on," added McBryde.
"Josh is unlucky, but he will hopefully have benefited from the time he has spent in the international environment and will continue that learning experience for the rest of the week. Paul has relished his time here and there is an opportunity for all three to use this tour as a springboard for the future."
United States coach Eddie O'Sullivan has made four changes to the team which lost against Ireland on Sunday. Gavin DeBartalo comes in on the wing, Alipate Tuilevuka comes off the bench to take up position at outside centre and Ata Malifa starts in place of former Scarlets and Leeds fly-half Mike Hercus .
There is one change in the USA pack with Leeds Carnegie prop Mike MacDonald joining Hercus on the bench, changing places with Matekitonga Moeakiola.
"The match against Ireland last week was a starting point," O'Sullivan said. "We will keep improving with each week we have together and each match we play. Our ultimate goal is to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, but at this time, we just have to take it one competitor at a time. This week our entire focus will be on learning from our mistakes in the last match and preparing for the Welsh."
USA: Chris Wyles (Saracens), Gavin DeBartalo (Eastern Suburbs), Alipate Tuilevuka (Provo Steelers), Roland Suniula (Pearl City), Kevin Swiryn (Old Puget Sound Beach), Ata Malifa (Belmont Shore RFC), Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club); Matekitonga Moeakiola (Park City Haggis), Chris Biller (California), Will Johnson (Oxford University), John Van Der Giessen (Denver Barbarians), Hayden Smith (Saracens), Louis Stanfill (New York Athletic Club), Peter Dahl (Belmont Shore), Nic Johnson (Denver Barbarians).
Replacements: Brian McClanahan (Olympic Club), Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie), Courtney Mackay (Counties Manukau), JJ Gagiani (Univ. of Cape Town), Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC), Mike Hercus (Sunshine Coast Stingrays), Junior Sifa (Midleton RFC)
Wales: Daniel Evans; Mark Jones, Jonathan Davies, Andrew Bishop, Tom James; Nicky Robinson, Dwayne Peel; Duncan Jones, Gareth Williams, John Yapp, Ian Gough, Deiniol Jones, Dafydd Jones, Robin Sowden-Taylor, Ryan Jones
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Craig Mitchell, Luke Charteris, Sam Warburton, Gareth Cooper, Daniel Biggar, Jonathan Spratt
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic