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Six Nations Preview: England Under-20s v Ireland Under-20s

Six Nations Preview: England Under-20s v Ireland Under-20s

The fifth and final leg of a potential Grand Slam takes the Ireland Under-20s to Adams Park, the home of London Wasps, where defending champions England await in a mouth-watering Championship decider.

2012 RBS UNDER-20 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, March 16

ENGLAND U-20s (2nd) v IRELAND U-20s (1st), Adams Park, London Wasps RFC, 8.05pm (live on Sky Sports 2/HD2)

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, has been named for their final fixture of the RBS Under-20 6 Nations Championship where they take on England at Adams Park.

Head coach Mike Ruddock has made two personnel changes to the Ireland side that defeated Scotland 26-0 last weekend in Athlone.

Loosehead prop Des Merrey gets his first start of the Championship, having been used as a replacement in each of the previous four games.

Kyle McCall moves to the tighthead side of the scrum with Niall Scannell named at hooker having missed the previous game through injury.

Ireland are two points clear of England at the top of the table thanks to their four wins to date. Friday’s game, to decide the Championship, will be broadcast live from Adams Park on Sky Sports 2/HD2.

A win for Ruddock’s charges would secure a Grand Slam, while an English victory would all but give Rob Hunter’s outfit a second successive Championship win thanks to their impressive points difference of +118.

Bath out-half Tom Heathcote comes into the home side, England’s fifth number 10 of the Championship, while Gloucester’s Ryan Mills returns at inside centre and there are first starts for Sale Sharks’ Will Addison and London Wasps prop Alec Hepburn.

ENGLAND U-20: Anthony Watson (London Irish); Marland Yarde (London Irish), Will Addison (Sale Sharks), Ryan Mills (Gloucester), Charlie Walker (Harlequins); Tom Heathcote (Bath), Dan Robson (Gloucester); Alec Hepburn (London Wasps), Koree Britton (Gloucester), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Tom Price (Leicester Tigers), Dom Barrow (Leeds Carnegie), Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors), Chris Walker (Leeds Carnegie) (capt), Jack Clifford (Harlequins).

Replacements: Nathan Morris (London Wasps), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Ross Harrison (Sale Sharks), George Merrick (Harlequins), David Sisi (London Irish), Ben Spencer (Saracens), Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Ransom (Saracens).

IRELAND U-20: Shane Layden (Buccaneers/Connacht); Conor Finn (Buccaneers/Connacht), Chris Farrell (Dungannon/Ulster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster), Foster Horan (Lansdowne/Leinster); Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster) (capt), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster); Des Merrey (Clontarf/Leinster), Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Kyle McCall (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster), Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht), Conor Gilsenan (UCD/Leinster), Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster).

Replacements: James Rael (Garryowen/Munster), Peter Reilly (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jake Cawley (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jordan Coghlan (UCD/Leinster), Kieron Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht), Cathal Marsh (Dublin University/Leinster), Stuart Olding (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster).

Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Stefano Marrama, Simone Boaretto (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Alan Falzone (Italy)

Pre-Match Quotes – Mike Ruddock (Ireland U-20s): “The players stood shoulder to shoulder, under pressure in a tough environment, in front of 10,000 French people cheering their team on.

“We held on in those final moments and even managed to turnover their scrum and get a shock victory. Because of that they have been galvanised and know that they are good enough to go to England and do something special.

“England will try and maul us, drive us in the scrum and outpower us around the corner. The key to victory will be us making our tackles. We have to put them on the floor.

“Wales, Scotland and Italy failed to do that and only France were able to address the physicality England bring. We have to match their physicality because if we don’t, it is going to be a long night.”

Rob Hunter (England U-20s): “We’re happy with where we are as a side. We learnt a lot of tough lessons against France last weekend and we’ll be looking to bounce back against what is a very organised, good quality Irish side.

“Ireland are going for the Grand Slam but our focus is on ourselves, we’ve got things that we need to fix up as we build towards the IRB Junior World Championship.

“In saying that, we know what is at stake for both teams on Friday, but the main motivation is to perform better than we did last week.”

Pre-Match Links –

Irish Rugby TV: Mike Ruddock

Irish Rugby TV: Paddy Jackson

We’re Improving With Each Game – Scannell

McGrath Hoping Under-20s Can ‘Finish With A Bang’

Recent Meetings –

2009: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 19 England U-20s 18, Dubarry Park

2010: RBS U-20 6 Nations: England U-20s 10 Ireland U-20s 25, Kingsholm, Gloucester RFC; IRB Junior World Championship Pool B: England U-20s 36 Ireland U-20s 21, Estadio El Coloso del Parque, Rosario

2011: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 15 England U-20s 46, Dubarry Park; IRB Junior World Championship Pool C: England U-20s 33 Ireland U-20s 25, Stadio di Monigo, Treviso