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Preview: Ireland Under-20s v Scotland Under-20s

Preview: Ireland Under-20s v Scotland Under-20s

The Ireland Under-20s are just 80 minutes away from a possible Championship and Triple Crown double, as they look to overcome their Scottish counterparts at Dubarry Park tonight (kick-off 7.35pm). But with chief chasers England playing France on Sunday, the destination of the title will not be decided until then.


IRELAND U-20s v SCOTLAND U-20s, Dubarry Park, 7.35pm (live RTE Two/RTE website)

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been named for their final fixture of the RBS U-20 6 Nations Championship at Dubarry Park.

For tonight’s clash with Scotland in Athlone, Ireland Under-20 coach Allen Clarke has made two changes to the side which defeated Wales.

Cork Constitution clubman Simon Zebo returns to the starting line-up, replacing the injured Darren Hudson on the left wing.

Corinthians starlet Eoin Griffin, a try scorer as a replacement in the win over Wales, also comes in for Brendan Macken at outside centre.

The Irish Under-20s currently sit top of the table with three wins from their opening four games. They are level on six Championship points with second-placed England, but boast a 17-point lead over the English side in terms of scoring difference.

Meanwhile, the Scotland Under-20 management have will selected the same team that lost 27-6 to England for their final RBS U-20 6 Nations match against Ireland.

Leeds Carnegie scrum half Alex Black retains his place in the starting line-up, ahead of Caithness’ Kris Hamilton.

The young Scots, currently fourth in the Championship standings, will face a difficult test in Athlone against an Ireland side that is top of the table and high on confidence after wins over Italy, England and Wales.

The Scottish selection includes a number of players from the Scottish National Contracted Academy and the Scottish Rugby National Academy.

IRELAND U-20: Andrew Conway (Blackrock College/Leinster); Tiernan O’Halloran (Galwegians/Connacht), Eoin Griffin (Corinthians/Connacht), Nevin Spence (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); James McKinney (Queen’s University/Ulster), John Cooney (UCD/Leinster); Jack O’Connell (Lansdowne/Leinster), Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Stewart Maguire (Old Belvedere/Leinster), David O’Callaghan (UCC/Munster), Ben Marshall (UCD/Leinster), Rhys Ruddock (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Patrick Butler (Shannon/Munster).

Replacements: Risteard Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Bryan Cagney (UCC/Munster), Brian Hayes (Cork Constitution/Munster), Robin O’Sullivan (Bective Rangers/Leinster), Michael Heaney (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Gareth Quinn McDonogh (Shannon/Munster), Brendan Macken (Blackrock/Leinster).

SCOTLAND U-20: Tom Brown (Edinburgh Accies); Oliver Grove (Worcester Warriors), James Johnstone (Currie), Alex Dunbar (Selkirk), Dougie Fife (Currie); Alex Blair (Edinburgh Accies), Alex Black (Leeds Carnegie); Nicky Little (Hawick), Alun Walker (Currie), Colin Phillips (Stewart’s Melville), Matthew Reid (Heriot’s), Robert Harley (West of Scotland), Michael Maltman (Heriot’s), David Denton (Edinburgh Accies), Stuart McInally (Watsonians) (capt).

Replacements: Lindsey Gibson (Melrose), George Hunter (Glasgow Hawks), Aaron Hall (Newcastle Falcons), Callum Stidston-Nott (London Scottish), Kris Hamilton (Caithness), Matthew Scott (Currie), Duncan Weir (Glasgow Hawks).

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Cyril Lafon, Paul-Henri Courbier (both France)
Television Match Official: Daniel Gillet (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 1/12; Draw: 25/1; Scotland U-20s to win: 6/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Allen Clarke (Ireland Under-20s) – “The players are aware of the consequences of Friday’s game and the opportunity as a result of the performances to date.

“However, the approach is to focus on the things which we can control. In simple terms respecting the opposition in preparing for ‘another Test match’ with the same diligence, concentration and desire to improve individually and collectively, while ensuring rest and enjoyment at the appropriate times.

“The mood in the camp is good and there is a real sense of desire to deliver the required performance in what will be another tough encounter against Scotland.”

Eamon John (Scotland Under-20s) – “We fed England points and let them get away from us. Analysis showed that all the points they gained were all avoidable, self inflicted and unfortunately very costly, however, we were by far the better side in the second-half and we controlled the tempo.

“Ireland are a good side and favourites for the Championship. Credit to them, we respect them but we certainly don’t fear them.

“They’ve made Athlone a bit of a fortress. All the big guns have been scalped there but we’re going to concentrate on the lessons learned through experience against England and go there with a real hunger.”

Pre-Match Links – 

Clarke Looks For Further Improvement Against Scotland

Annett: Never-Say-Die Attitude Key To Our Progress

Ireland Under-20s Keep On Track For Silverware

Ireland Under-20s Score Famous Kingsholm Win 

Rhys Ruddock On Irish Rugby TV

Recent Meetings –

2007: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Scotland U-20s 8 Ireland U-20s 31, Community Stadium, Falkirk 

2008: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 17 Scotland U-20s 12, Dubarry Park; IRB Junior World Championship – 9th-10th Place Play-Off: Ireland U-20s 39 Scotland U-20s 12, Rodney Parade 

2009: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Scotland U-20s 35 Ireland U-20s 20, McDiarmid Park