Health & Fitness 'Who the hell is that?' The new Welsh rugby machine a lot of people are talking about today
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Sometimes, a team has to forget about gaining marks for artistic impression.
Getting the job done becomes the sole priority.
Saturday evening at Cardiff Arms Park was one of those occasions.
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Rain lashed down and mistakes abounded as Wales and Italy played out their round one match in the U20s Six Nations.
Discipline was also an issue as ring-rusty players, some of whom hadn’t played a proper game in 15 months beforehand, attracted the attention of a referee who had no trouble locating his cards.
There were five yellows flashed the way of recalcitrant players, with two of them going Wales’ way.
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But amid the general scrapiness, there were some more-than-encouraging individual displays, especially for the home team as they ran out 25-8 winners.
We take a lot at the evening's top performers.
“When you see him, with his bright yellow headguard on, he will jump out at you.
“You’ll go: ‘Who the hell is that?’
“He’s like a machine.”
So suggested anof the Wales age-grade scene to this writer about Harri Deaves recently.
The youngster didn’t disappoint. Indeed, he had a stunning game that saw him deservedly named man of the match.
His side won nine turnovers. At times it seemed as if Deaves was responsible for pretty much all of them. Certainly there were at least a handful that definitely had his imprint on them as the low-to-the-ground youngster from Pontyclun, who’s on the Ospreys’ books, went about his business.
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But there was more. Much more.
Deaves fairly flew out of the line to chainsaw Italian ball-carriers, putting in multiple tackles in the opening half and finishing with 19 hits all told. There was also one take of a high ball that Dan Biggar would have signed off, and another catch which the openside flanker topped off by booting the ball upfield. Several solid carries further embellished his show.
If there was a yellow card for not retreating 10 metres, it was still a hugely impressive effort from the 20-year-old.
Naming him as man of the match, James Hook said: “He’s been absolutely fantastic.
“He’s been a scavenger and that high ball he took from Harri Williams' box-kick was a thing of beauty.”
Social media also lit up in appreciation.
Just minutes into the game, one Twitter user said: “Genuine question. How many Harri Deaves’ are on the pitch?
“Outstanding start! Absolutely everywhere.”
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Other plaudits saw Deaves hailed as “brilliant” and “immense”. One poster settled for: “You were unreal!”
For him, keeping his feet on the ground will be the challenge this week.
But his performance augurs well.
Potentially, Welsh rugby has a new openside gem on its hands.
Anyone looking for the man who guided Wales home at Cardiff Arms Park can call off the search. Costelow grew into the game until the point where he was absolutely and utterly bossing it.
There were five penalties from as many attempts, a smartly taken drop-goal and accurate kicking out of hand. By the last 10 minutes, thewas sending Italy back 50 metres with his work with the boot.
Strangely, he had started in second gear.
A couple of passes weren’t the best and his kicking didn’t have the distance that it acquired as the match wore on.
But he gained confidence from his work in front of the posts and pretty much everything he touched in the final half-hour worked. Considering that the conditions were appalling, with rain lashing down, the Pencoed RFC product showed huge class and composure, and no little maturity, to get the job done.
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When Wales needed to someone to point the way, their No. 10 stepped forward.
Another lad who lived up to.
At 5ft 7in and 11st 9lb, he isn't the biggest, but the kid the Scarlets plucked from England with a five-year contract at the age of 16 plays with an assurance and has the air of a general about him, someone who believes in himself, is willing to direct and isn't going to feel inferior to any opponent.
There was a snap about his play against Italy.
His passing was crisp and his box-kicking largely on the money — the high ball that Harri Deaves snaffled out of the air was delivered to perfection.
He also made some good decisions, displaying wisdom beyond his years, with Williams turning 18 just two months ago.
And Williams is a combative sort who showed himself willing to tackle and offer a threat around the fringes.
He’s someone we’ll be hearing more about in the seasons ahead.
This lad has looked promising when he’s had game-time for the Ospreys.
And he confirmed the good impressions with a big display against the Azzurri.
He’s 6ft and 18st or thereabouts.
Not only can he scrummage, he can also carry, pose a threat over the ball and defend. One of his runs saw this bear of a player make fully 20 metres, scattering blue-shirted opponents along the way.
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Phillips also got into a dust-up which earned him a yellow card.
If there was an anxious moment after the break after one of his hits attracted the interest of the TV official, the referee deemed it OK and Phillips played with undiluted ferocity throughout.
His was a strong show.
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Wales had two solidly built locks and both had their moments.
The 6ft 7in, 19st 8lb Joe Peard, from the Dragons, didn’t flinch from the physical challenge and alongside him Dafydd Jenkins tapped back a stream of line-out ball.
Exeter Chiefs youngster Jenkins, who is just 18, also had more than a few telling interventions around the field, on one occasion releasing the ball from a maul with an overhead pass.
His dad Hywel made his name as a powerful ball-carrying No. 8 with Swansea and Neath.
If Jenkins junior can incorporate even a small element of his father’s prowess with ball in hand into his own game, the 6ft 7in, 17st 11lb youngster will turn into quite the player.
But he's still developing and his athleticism was obvious.
From him, and from Peard, there were encouraging signs.
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