THE England Under-21 team for tomorrow's penultimate match of the IRB U21 World Championship was today confirmed by coaches Jim Mallinder and Dorian West - and both Ryan Lamb and Anthony Allen have been named on the bench.
Bath's Ryan Davis replaces Allen in the centre, while Newcastle's Toby Flood gets a start at stand-off in place of Lamb.
The match was originally thought to be against Ireland but the IRB has confirmed that England, who finished fifth behind New Zealand on points difference, will play eighth place Wales.
The match takes place tomorrow, Wednesday 21 June, at 17.00 in Vichy. It is preceded by Ireland v Argentina, who finished fifth and sixth after the pool matches. The winners of these two games meet in the final round on Sunday to decide who will finish in fifth place overall.
Mallinder has handed Matt Riley, Sale Sharks, and Bristol's Iain Grieve their first starts. "Matt came on for us against New Zealand and did a good job. Although Iain only got a few minutes against Scotland, his attitude in training and his performances for England Under-19s this year have been outstanding and he fully deserves this chance."
Davis will get his first chance of the tournament. Although he was not involved in this year's Six Nations, the Bath centre was an important part of the 2005 Six Nations squad before injury ruled him out of the Under-21 World Championship later that season.
Mallinder added: "It's a big ask to play five tough matches in 17 days and we're very lucky to have a fully fit squad to select from. We've had two very physical matches on the bounce so it's important to bring in fresh legs. We know that Wales will be another difficult match for us.
"The loss to New Zealand was our first defeat of the season and our goal for the two remaining matches is to keep that record. Nine wins from ten games is the best we can do now and that is what the boys are playing for," he said.
England Under21s: Mike Brown (NEC Harlequins); Topsy Ojo (London Irish), Matt Cornwell (Leicester Tigers) captain, Ryan Davis (Bath Rugby), Matt Riley (Sale Sharks), Toby Flood (Newcastle Falcons), Ben Foden (Sale Sharks), Alex Rogers (NEC Harlequins), Chris Brooker (Bath Rugby), David Wilson (Newcastle Falcons), Richard Blaze (Worcester Warriors), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Iain Grieve (Bristol Rugby), Michael Hills (Sale Sharks), James Haskell (London Wasps). Reps: Rob Webber (London Wasps), Tom Mercey (Saracens), Chris Robshaw (NEC Harlequins), Jordan Crane (Leeds Tykes), Danny Care (Leeds Tykes), Ryan Lamb (Gloucester), Anthony Allen (Gloucester)
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Matt Kvesic was a try scorer and recipient of the Man of the Match award in Sunday's 35-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup win over Zebre. He praised the Italian side for their spirited opposition and admitted that next week's return game will be a tough one.
After a tense opening half hour in Parma, the game turned just before half time as the home team had David Odiete red carded and Gloucester took full advantage, running in three second half tries to secure the bonus point and the victory over Zebre by 32 points to 16.