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

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

After losing to Wales in their opening match, a home win over reigning champions England is vital if Ireland are to build a challenge for the RBS Under-20 6 Nations title. A keenly-contested battle is in prospect at Dubarry Park.

2013 RBS UNDER-20 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, February 8

IRELAND U-20s (4th) v ENGLAND U-20s (1st), Dubarry Park, Athlone, 7.35pm (live RTÉ Two/RTÉ website)

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, has been named by head coach Mike Ruddock for this Friday’s game against England at Dubarry Park in Athlone.

Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw, a native of Athlone, comes in for his first Ireland Under-20 cap at full-back.

Henshaw, who appeared for the O2 Ireland Wolfhounds last month, has been named alongside David Panter and Rory Scholes in a new look back-three.

Mark Roche, also making his first appearance of the Six Nations Championship, will partner his Lansdowne club-mate Tom Daly in the centre. Rory Scannell, who started in the centre against Wales, will fill the out-half role this time.

In the forwards, Peter Dooley has been named in the front row alongside George McGuigan and Chris Taylor.

There will be live TV coverage of Friday’s match at Dubarry Park on RTÉ Two, beginning at 7.30pm. Match tickets are sale at the Bounty. Family tickets are excellent value at €;30 for two adults and two children in the covered terrace.

Stand tickets cost €;20 each and are selling steadily already, as is the pre-match function where you can enjoy a three-course meal with wine and also have a reserved seat in the stand for only €;40 per person.

Group bookings welcome. Please contact Geraldine at 0861732711 for all pre-match function and/or match ticket enquiries/bookings.

Meanwhile, there are four changes to the England Under-20 team that beat Scotland 15-6 in their opening Six Nations game. Mark Jennings, Henry Purdy, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi and Scott Wilson all come into the side.

There are also two positional changes with Ben Howard switching from wing to full-back and Luke Cowan-Dickie moving from loosehead prop to hooker.

England face an Ireland side who lost their opening game in Wales 17-15, but head coach Rob Hunter is under no illusions as to the task in hand. “Ireland are always a tough side, particularly at home, we’ve had a good week and we’re just looking forward to getting out there now,” he said.

Team captain Jack Clifford added: “We’re a new group and learnt a lot from the game against Scotland. The focus is now on Ireland and we know that they’ll be up for it, but we’ll just focus on our processes and if we play to our potential then we know that we’re a good side.”

IRELAND U-20: Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht); David Panter (Corinthians/Connacht), Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster), Mark Roche (Lansdowne/Connacht), Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) (capt); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), George McGuigan (Newcastle Falcons/Exiles), Chris Taylor (Malone/Ulster), Gavin Thornbury (UCD/Leinster), John Donnan (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Ryan Murphy (Dolphin/Munster), Conor Joyce (Malone/Ulster).

Replacements: John Andrew (Ballymena/Ulster), Ryan Furniss (Worcester Warriors/Exiles), Adam Boland (Lansdowne/Connacht), Sean McCarthy (Shannon/Munster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), John Creighton (Malone/Ulster), Eogháin Quinn (Lansdowne/Leinster), Darren Sweetnam (UCC/Munster).

ENGLAND U-20: Ben Howard (Worcester Warriors); Jack Arnott (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Jennings (Sale Sharks), Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Purdy (Leicester Tigers); Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Alex Day (Northampton Saints); Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton Saints), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Scott Wilson (Newcastle Falcons), Elliott Stooke (Gloucester), Dom Barrow (Leeds Carnegie), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester), Joel Conlon (Exeter Chiefs), Jack Clifford (Harlequins) (capt).

Replacements: Max Crumpton (Saracens), Nathan Morris (London Wasps), Danny Herriott (Northampton Saints), Tom Jubb (Saracens), Harry Wells (Leicester Tigers), Nathan Fowles (Sale Sharks), Will Hooley (Northampton Saints), Tom Collins (Northampton Saints).

Referee: Nigel Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Greg Morgan, Julian Smith (both Wales)
Television Match Official: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 21/10; Draw: 20/1; England U-20s to win: 4/11

Pre-Match Quotes – Mike Ruddock (Ireland U-20s): “We need to cut down on the penalty count and work on our scrummage – but there were a lot of positives (from the Wales game), from our continuity to our tackling.

“We outscored the Welsh by two tries to one and feel that there is a lot we can improve on. It is a learning process for the boys. Of course we were disappointed not to win.

“But we took a lot of positives from the game and will be looking for a better performance against a good England team. That’s what it is all about.”

Jack Arnott (England U-20s): “You can never write off Ireland. They will always come out with massive intensity and pride and we have just got to stand up and take what they give us and hopefully turn them over at their place.

“There was a big emphasis at the start of this campaign about taking every game as a stepping stone and this one is just another step in the right direction that we want to take.”

Match Facts –

– The Ireland Under-20s have won their last three home games, which were all played at Dubarry Park in Athlone

– Ireland have lost their last two Under-20 Six Nations games but have never lost three in-a-row in the tournament

– The England Under-20s’ only defeat in their last 13 Six Nations encounters was 12-8 to France in Vannes last year

– Ireland beat England 27-12 in the IRB Junior World Championships in Cape Town last June, their first win over the English Under-20s since 2010

– The England Under-20 have visited Dubarry Park three times before – losing in 2007 and 2009 and winning in 2011

– Defending champions England opened their 2013 campaign with a 15-6 win over Scotland in Plymouth, aided by a penalty try and a five-pointer from front rower Luke Cowan-Dickie

– Ireland made a losing start in Colwyn Bay as they went down 17-15 to Wales. They had a try from captain Luke McGrath, who turned 20 last Saturday, and 10 points – a try, conversion and penalty – from centre Tom Daly

Recent Meetings –

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

2012: RBS U-20 6 Nations: England U-20s 20 Ireland U-20s 9, Adams Park; IRB Junior World Championship Pool B: England U-20s 20 Ireland U-20s 15, Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch; IRB Junior World Championship 5th-8th Place Play-Off: Ireland U-20s 27 England U-20s 12, University of Western Cape Stadium, Cape Town