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Club International Preview: England Counties v Ireland Club XV

Club International Preview: England Counties v Ireland Club XV

The Ireland Club International squad, sponsored by Ulster Bank, will bid to make it two wins out of two for the season when they meet England Counties in Darlington tonight.


ENGLAND COUNTIES v IRELAND CLUB XV, Northern Echo Arena, Darlington Mowden Park RFC, 7.30pm

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Team News: Ireland Club team head coach Tom Tierney has been forced into a late change for Friday’s clash with England Counties at Mowden Park RFC in Darlington. Declan Lavery will start in place of Christy Condon.

Following the Ireland Club XV’s impressive display against Scotland Clubs at Temple Hill, Tierney has kept faith with the combinations that put 28 points passed the Scots.

Old Belvedere’s Daniel Riordan, who scored a brace against the Scots as man-of-the-match, continues at full-back.

Clontarf’s David Joyce resumes his half-back partnership with Cork Constitution scrum half Gerry Hurley who again captains the Irish side.

In a late change announced on Wednesday, Old Belvedere prop Lavery will start in place of Condon with Young Munster’s Hugh McGrath promoted to the bench.

Ballynahinch centre Stuart Morrow was one of the try scorers in Ireland’s 30-20 victory over England Counties in Cork last February.

Hurley, Morrow and forwards Colm McMahon and William Ryan all started against England twelve months ago.

Notably, Darragh Fanning, Craig Ronaldson and Ger Slattery also played in the Clubs-Counties match last year and have since gone on to be capped by Leinster, Connacht and Munster respectively.

Tierney, who won eight caps for Ireland, is in charge of the Ireland Club side for 2014. He is the current Garryowen head coach.

He is assisted by fellow former international Mick O’Driscoll who is part of the current Cork Con coaching team. Garryowen’s Seamus McDermott fills the role of team manager.

Tickets for Friday’s game at the Northern Echo Arena are priced at £5 (pre booked), £7 on the gate and it is free in for Under-16s. To book your ticket(s), please telephone 0044 (0)1325 350267 or email: info@mowdenpark.com.

Meanwhile, England Counties have called up Ben Rath of Fylde as a late change to their matchday squad. He replaces Kiba Richards of Worthing, who has been forced to withdraw after he suffered a hand injury playing for his club last Saturday.

Wharfedale number 8 Rob Baldwin returns to the English squad having missed the 16-15 defeat by France Federale in Nevers two weeks ago through suspension.

Baldwin has now completed his one-week suspension but Fylde out-half Chris Johnson, who replaced him as captain in France, will lead the side again at Darlington.

Stourbridge prop Mark George, Old Albanians back rower Ollie Cooper-Millar and Fylde prop Adam Lewis have been added to the forwards.

Old Albanians scrum half Stefan Liebenberg has recovered from the injury that ruled him out of the France defeat and he returns in the backs.

Millar-Cooper and Lewis are in line to make their England Counties debuts but Baldwin, George and Liebenberg all have previous experience with the side.

There is plenty of north east interest in the England Counties side with Darlington Mowden Park lock Pierce Phillips and centre Cameron Mitchell set to represent their country at their home ground and Blaydon trio Robbie Kalbriaer, Gavin Jones and Chris Wearmouth also included.

ENGLAND COUNTIES Squad: Backs – Jack Adams (Cinderford), Richard Bolt (Exmouth), Chris Briers (Fylde), Chris Johnson (Fylde) (capt), Stefan Liebenberg (Old Albanians), Cameron Mitchell (Darlington Mowden Park), Luke Myring (Coventry), Ben Rath (Fylde), Sean Taylor (Preston Grasshoppers), Jim Wigglesworth (Cambridge).

Forwards – Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale), Ollie Cooper-Millar (Old Albanians), Jamal Ford-Robinson (Cambridge), Mark George (Stourbridge), Ben Hilton (Launceston), Gavin Jones (Blaydon), Robbie Kalbriaer (Blaydon), Adam Lewis (Fylde), Johnny Matthews (Sedgley Park), Brett McNamee (Old Albanians), Pierce Phillips (Darlington Mowden Park), Tom Stradwick (Blackheath), Chris Wearmouth (Blaydon).

IRELAND CLUB XV: Daniel Riordan (Old Belvedere RFC); Michael McGrath (Clontarf FC), Stuart Morrow (Ballynahinch RFC), Mark Roche (Lansdowne FC), Cian Aherne (Lansdowne FC); David Joyce (Clontarf FC), Gerry Hurley (Cork Constitution FC) (capt); Colm McMahon (St. Mary’s College RFC), Tyrone Moran (Lansdowne FC), Declan Lavery (Old Belvedere RFC), Dean Moore (Old Belvedere RFC), Fergal Walsh (Terenure College RFC), Willie Earle (Lansdowne FC), Charlie Butterworth (Lansdowne FC), William Ryan (Cork Constitution FC).

Replacements: Andrew O’Driscoll (Cork Constitution FC), Ian Hirst (Clontarf FC), Hugh McGrath (Young Munster RFC), Sean Walsh (Cashel RFC), James Ryan (Cork Constitution FC), Neil Cronin (Garryowen FC), Ritchie McMaster (Queen’s University RFC), Barry Daly (UCD RFC).

Referee: Graeme Wells (Scotland)

Pre-Match Quotes – Tom Tierney (Ireland Club XV): “Darlington wouldn’t be a hotbed for rugby union, but it’s a big, big place for Counties rugby in England so they’re very much looking forward to hosting the international.

“We’re going very well so far. We had an excellent win in very poor conditions in Cork against Scotland, 28-3, and it just goes to show the quality of player we have – very, very impressive players who are very close to provincial level if not at provincial level.

“It has been a very good campaign so far. It finishes for the lads on Friday unfortunately – it’s only a two-game season – but we hope to finish on a high.”

Chris Johnson (England Counties): “It was a bit of a surprise when I got the captaincy because Rob (Baldwin) was the original captain and they asked me at the last minute when he was suspended.

“I captained the side in the first match of the Belgium tour last year, which was a great experience and leading the team for the first time in an international in France was a great honour.

“Leading the side out at Darlington will be a proud moment for me. I will have a few friends and a few family members to support me.

“We’ve made a few changes to the squad from the defeat in France but, from my previous experience of playing Ireland when we drew against them at Donnybrook in 2009, I’m looking forward to going up against them again.”

Ireland Club XV: Recent Matches –

2011: Scotland Club XV 30 Ireland Club XV 32, Netherdale, Gala RFC; Ireland Club XV 16 England Counties 8, Anglesea Road

2012: Ireland Club XV 26 Scotland Club XV 21, Anglesea Road, Old Belvedere RFC; England Counties 34 Ireland Club XV 16, Preston Grasshoppers RFC

2013: Ireland Club XV 30 England Counties 20, Temple Hill, Cork Constitution FC; Scotland Club XV 30 Ireland Club XV 18, Millbrae, Ayr RFC

2014: Ireland Club XV 28 Scotland Club XV 3, Temple Hill, Cork Constitution FC