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

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

Athlone is sure to be buzzing tonight as a big crowd is expected for the Ireland Under-20s’ final match of the Six Nations campaign. Visitors England are bidding for their first Grand Slam at this age grade since 2008.

2011 RBS UNDER-20 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, March 18

IRELAND U-20s (4th) v ENGLAND U-20s (1st), Dubarry Park, 7.45pm (live RTÉ Two/RTÉ website)

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, has been named for the final game of the RBS 6 Nations Championship against England at Dubarry Park.

Head coach Mike Ruddock has made four changes to the side that drew dramatically with Wales last weekend.

Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran returns to the starting line-up, joining Michael Sherlock and Andrew Boyle in an exciting back-three.

JJ Hanrahan starts at inside centre in place of Luke Marshall, while Cathal Marsh comes in at out-half for Paddy Jackson.

Jackson, Marshall and winger Craig Gilroy, who scored a superb try against Wales, have been called up to the Ulster squad.

Up front, David Doyle, Ireland’s late try scorer in Llanelli, comes in at hooker for injured captain Niall Annett. He will pack down between James Tracy and Martin Moore.

Number 8 Jordi Murphy, who is in his second year at this level, will captain the team in the absence of Annett.

Tickets for the game, priced at €;18 (stand), €;15 (ground/terrace) and €;5 (students/OAPs), are available to purchase from the Buccaneers office at Dubarry Park (during normal office hours) or The Bounty any night.

National school children accompanied by a paying adult will be admitted free, provided they have the special discount voucher issued through the local national schools.

The game in Athlone will also be broadcast live on RTÉ Two, with commentary by Gary Moran and Donal Lenihan.

Meanwhile, England Under-20 head coach Rob Hunter has made six changes to the team that overcame Scotland on a 56-8 scoreline last time out.

Gloucester centre Ryan Mills, London Irish winger Jonathan Joseph, Bath scrum half Chris Cook, Northampton Saints hooker Mike Haywood, Sale Sharks prop Henry Thomas and Leicester Tigers flanker Matt Everard all come into the starting line-up for the Grand Slam decider.

England are well-placed in the table with four wins from four and Hunter says that he will have no problem motivating his side as they aim for a first clean sweep since 2008.

“Ireland will be tough, they are the defending champions and they rarely lose in Athlone,” he said.

“We’ve had an excellent Championship so far and we know what’s at stake on Friday night. We’ll be focusing purely on performance and matching the challenge that Ireland represent.”

IRELAND U-20: Michael Sherlock (Clontarf/Leinster); Tiernan O’Halloran (Galwegians/Connacht), Alex Kelly (UCD/Leinster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster), Andrew Boyle (UCD/Leinster); Cathal Marsh (Dublin University/Leinster), Blane McIlroy (Ballymena/Ulster); James Tracy (UCD/Leinster), David Doyle (UCD/Leinster), Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster), Michael Kearney (Clontarf/Leinster), Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht), Shane Buckley (Garryowen/Munster), Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt).

Replacements: James Rael (Garryowen/Munster), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Cathal O’Flaherty (Cork Constitution/Munster), Stephen Lecky (Glasgow Hawks/Exiles), Mark Dolan (Corinthians/Connacht), Gareth Quinn McDonogh (Shannon/Munster), Colm O’Shea (Clontarf/Leinster).

ENGLAND U-20: Ben Ransom (Saracens); Andy Short (Worcester Warriors), Elliot Daly (London Wasps), Ryan Mills (Gloucester), Jonathan Joseph (London Irish); George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Chris Cook (Bath); Mako Vunipola (Bristol), Mike Haywood (Northampton Saints), Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Charlie Matthews (Harlequins), Matt Kvesic (Worcester Warriors), Matt Everard (Leicester Tigers), Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons) (capt).

Replacements: Rob Buchanan (Harlequins), Will Collier (Harlequins), Addison Lockley (Exeter Chiefs), Sam Jones (London Wasps), Dan Robson (Gloucester), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Jamie Elliott (Northampton Saints).

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Cédric Marchat, Stéphane Boyer (both France)
Television Match Official: Vincent Azoulay (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 11/2; Draw: 33/1; England U-20s to win: 1/10

Top Scorers – 2011 RBS Under-20 6 Nations: Ireland – Points: Paddy Jackson 37; Tries: Craig Gilroy 3; England – Points: George Ford 60; Tries: Elliot Daly 7

Pre-Match Links –

Irish Rugby TV: Mike Ruddock

Gilroy Guides Ireland Under-20s To Opening Win

France Too Strong For Ireland U-20s

Ireland U-20s Take Win Over Scots

Dramatic Draw For Ireland U-20s In Llanelli

Recent Meetings –

2008: RBS U-20 6 Nations: England U-20s 43 Ireland U-20s 14, Kingsholm, Gloucester RFC

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