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Four changes as Cardiff U18 face RGC in Colwyn Bay

Pathway | 25th January 2023

Cardiff under-18 have made four changes for Sunday’s clash with RGC in Colwyn Bay (KO 3pm).

The young Blue and Blacks secured a bonus point win in their opening clash of the Regional Age Grade Championship, recording a 20-0 victory over Dragons at Cardiff Arms Park earlier this month.

After two weeks out of action, blindside flanker Katie Sims will captain the side at Parc Eirias on their return. With Riley Stanger retained on the openside, only one change is made in the back row as Manon Blackford comes in to wear the number eight jersey.

Gwennan Hopkins, who crossed for a brace in the opening game of the campaign, is ruled out of the encounter after being called up for the senior Wales Development XV side. The Cardiff back row crossed the whitewash as Wales kicked off the Celtic Challenge with an away win over the Thistles last week.

A further change is made amongst the locks, with Tilly Vucaj handed a start alongside Fern Cumine, while the front row of Crystal James, Shanelle Williams and Niamh Padmore remains unchanged.

Brooke Bevan and Sophia Foscolo both slot into the starting XV, having impressed from the bench at the Arms Park. 

Bevan’s introduction at outside half sees Rachel Thomas-Evans switch to full back, as Foscolo takes her place on the wing. 

Looking ahead to Sunday’s trip up the A470, head coach Darren Bool said: “We were eager to reward the side after their performance against Dragons on the opening weekend of the campaign. We’ve made a handful of changes, but we’re excited about the overall strength in depth that we have in the squad.

“We’re fortunate to have quality on the bench who have the ability to come on and make an impact. That’s exactly what we saw from the likes of Sophia and Tilly last time out, and we’re keen to see similar this time around to give us further selection headaches as a coaching group.

“We’ve been really pleased with the high standards on show in training, despite no game time over the last fortnight, and it’s great to see progress being made. We have a group that enjoy playing an attacking brand of rugby, which is very much in the DNA of the club, and it’s enjoyable to watch.

“We’re fully aware of the challenges ahead. RGC are a quality outfit, as they’ve already shown this year, and on their home patch they will be very difficult to bear. However, if we play to our potential and stick to the game-plan, we’re more than capable of coming away with another win.

“It will be exciting to see Manon coming into the side, but also a word for Gwennan. We’re very proud of her achievements at such a young age and we’ve got no doubt that she will continue to impress.”

Cardiff: Rachel Thomas-Evans; Sophia Foscolo, Nia Fajeyisan, Sophie Southgate, Madison Isgrove; Brooke Bevan, Seren Lockwood; Crystal James, Shanelle Williams, Niamh Padmore, Tilly Vucaj, Fern Cumine, Katie Sims (capt.), Riley Stanger, Manon Blackford

Replacements: Nia Powell, Elin Berry, Izabel Wing, Ella Fry, Meg Morris, Raylee Caviell, Rhianna Bryant, Freya Inkpen