Wales women prepared for Hong Kong showdown

Wales have announced eight changes to their starting line-up ahead of their Friday night match against Hong Kong.

Wales have announced eight changes to their starting line-up ahead of their Friday night match against Hong Kong.

Head coach Rowland Phillips is keen to show off his side’s strength-in-depth and will hand a debut to Gwen Crabb in the second row.

Wales will be hoping to build on last weekend’s 19-5 victory over South Africa but won’t be underestimating the strength of Hong Kong.

Alicia McComish is handed her first international start at inside centre and Lisa Neumann will start on the left wing, in place of club teammate Jess Kavanagh.

Full-back Lauren Smyth, who made her Wales debut aged 17 last weekend, keeps her place along with fellow backs Jasmine Joyce, Alecs Donovan and outside-half Robyn Wilkins.

Sioned Harries will lead the team from number eight, with usual captain and hooker Carys Phillips starting on the bench alongside experienced props Caryl Thomas and Amy Evans.

Manon Johnes, another 17-year-old, will win her second cap at blindside flanker after coming off the bench early last Saturday for her full debut.

Wales Women v Hong Kong Women, Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, Friday 16 November, 19:00 GMT

Rowland Phillips (Wales head coach): “We had four first caps against South Africa and they all get a chance to build on that experience on Friday.

“It was pleasing to see Lauren adapt her skillset to international rugby and Manon, who came on earlier than expected showed what she is capable of.

“Sioned is an experienced player and captained the Scarlets in the recent regional programme so while it’s a young squad, there is a spine of experience too.

“It’s outstanding to have this three-Test series to try things out and take the knowledge into the Six Nations.

“We were buoyed by a great crowd last Saturday. It would be good to have the same vocal support again on Friday night to kick off the international weekend.”

Key Battle: The back three

The key battle in this one looks as though it could be in the backs.

Wales have kept their faith with last weekend’s try-scorer Jasmine Joyce on the wing, as well as full-back Lauren Smyth, and will hope the pair can turn in the same level of performance as they did against South Africa.

Hong Kong might look at targeting the inexperienced Lisa Neumann, who starts on the other wing, and Alicia McComish, who is making her first appearance in the centres.

Stat Watch:

– Gwen Crabb will win her first cap for Wales on Friday night. – Wales won 39-15 when the two sides met in the group stages at the World Cup in 2017. – Scrum-half, Ffion Lewis, is the younger sister of bodybuilder and seven-time Mr Olympia winner, James ‘Flex’ Lewis.

Wales line-up: 15. Lauren Smyth; 14. Jasmine Joyce, 13. Alecs Donnovan, 12. Alicia McComish, 11. Lisa Neumann; 10. Robyn Wilkins, 9. Ffion Lewis; 1. Cara Hope, 2. Kelsey Jones, 3. Cerys Hale, 4. Gwen Crabb, 5. Mel Clay, 6. Manon Johnes, 7. Bethan Lewis, 8. Sioned Harries (c)

Replacements: 16. Carys Phillips, 17. Caryl Thomas, 18. Amy Evans, 19. Natalia John, 20. Siwan Lillicrap, 21. Keira Bevan, 22. Hannah Jones, 23. Jess Kavanagh

Hong Kong line-up: TBC