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

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

The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PwC, have been joined at the top of the Six Nations table by England. Both sides have posted three wins so far, and Mike Ruddock’s youngsters are firmly focused on making it four by seeing off Scotland in Athlone tonight.


IRELAND U-20s (2nd) v SCOTLAND U-20s (6th), Dubarry Park, Buccaneers RFC, 7.05pm (live on RTÉ Two/RTÉ website)

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team has been named for their penultimate fixture of the RBS Under-20 6 Nations Championship, where they take on their Scottish counterparts at Dubarry Park.

The Ireland squad face into this fixture on the back of three wins from three in the tournament so far. Head coach Mike Ruddock has made a number of changes to the side that played against Italy a fortnight ago.

Luke McGrath is promoted from the bench to take the scrum half spot, in the only change to the Irish back-line.

A reworked pack sees James Rael join Peter Reilly and Kyle McCall in the front row. Iain Henderson moves from five to four and will partner Daniel Qualter in the second row.

Conor Gilsenan moves across the back row with Aaron Conneely coming in to join Jack Conan in an athletic combination.

Tadhg Beirne, Jordan Coghlan and Kieron Marmion are named in the replacements along with Callum O’Connell who comes into the 22 for the first time.

Meanwhile, after a long injury lay-off, centre Mark Bennett returns to the Scotland team as they seek their first win in this year’s Championship.

The 19-year-old from Ayr, who signed for French Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne at the start of last season, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in August.

But he has battled his way back to fitness and will start against Ireland, having made a try-scoring return for the Clermont Auvergne Under-20s last weekend.

Bennett’s inclusion means Tommy Allan of Western Province moves to full-back with Sam Hidalgo-Clyne back with the Scotland Sevens squad ahead of their visit to Hong Kong at the end of the month.

The Ospreys’ Matt Torrance keeps his starting berth at scrum half with Edinburgh’s Harry Leonard and Finn Russell, of Falkirk stationed at out-half and inside centre respectively.

In the pack, Edinburgh’s Elite Development player Robin Hislop returns at loosehead prop, with George Turner retaining his place at hooker and Alex Allan also back in the front row.

Dundee HSFP lock Andrew Redmayne earns his first start of this year’s Championship, with Stirling County’s Adam Sinclair moving to the bench.

* Tickets can be purchased from Buccaneers RFC’s office – contact Geraldine on 0871732711 or email rugby@dubarrypark.com during office hours.

Tickets are also on sale at the Bounty and Musicworld, Golden Island, Athlone. Cash will, of course, be taken at the turnstiles tonight, but come along early to savour the atmosphere.

There will also be live coverage of the game on RTÉ Two and the RTÉ website, with Hugh Cahill and former Ireland out-half Tony Ward providing the commentary.

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); Kyle McCall (Ballynahinch/Ulster), James Rael (Garryowen/Munster), Peter Reilly (Lansdowne/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster), Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht), Conor Gilsenan (UCD/Leinster), Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht), Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster).

Replacements: Callum O’Connell (Galwegians/Connacht), Des Merrey (Clontarf/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).

SCOTLAND U-20: Tommy Allan (Western Province); Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh/Edinburgh Accies), Mark Bennett (Clermont Auvergne), Finn Russell (Falkirk), Michael Crawley (Boroughmuir); Harry Leonard (Edinburgh), Matt Torrance (Ospreys); Robin Hislop (Edinburgh), George Turner (Edinburgh/Stewart’s Melville), Alex Allan (Loughborough Students), Andrew Redmayne (Dundee HSFP), Jonny Gray (Hamilton), Mitch Eadie (Bristol), Will Bordill (Sale Sharks), Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir).

Replacements: Russell Anderson (Gala), Gavin Robertson (Dundee HSFP), Adam Sinclair (Stirling County), Callum Reid (Edinburgh Accies), Jamie Bhatti (Stirling County), Murray McConnell (Glasgow Warriors/Ayr), Tom Steven (Glasgow Hawks), Robbie Fergusson (Ayr).

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Lamirand, Philippe Courbier (both France)
Television Match Official: Philippe Bonhoure (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 1/50; Draw: 40/1; Scotland U-20s to win: 11/1

Pre-Match Quotes – Mike Ruddock (Ireland U-20s): “We have reinstated a few of the lads that were involved in the win against France. We felt that they deserved to come back into the equation for this test.

“We certainly don’t underestimate the Scottish side, I have looked at their tapes and realise that our defence are going to have to work very hard to stop them crossing the line.

“We have prepared to the best of our ability and are ready to front up to a very talented Scotland team.”

Peter Wright (Scotland U-20s): “For me, this is one of the hardest games of the Championship. Ireland are a very strong side, they are at home and they are aiming for a Grand Slam, that’s a big challenge for us.

“But barring Scott Steele, who is staying with his club (Leicester Tigers), we have strength and depth through the starting fifteen and into the subs.

“We have guys who can come off the bench and make a real difference, guys that can change the game. That’s a really good sign of the strength of the squad.”

Recent Meetings –

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

2010: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 44 Scotland U-20s 15, Dubarry Park; IRB Junior World Championship – 9th-10th Place Play-Off: Ireland U-20s 53 Scotland U-20s 23, Club Atletico Estudiantes, Parana

2011: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Scotland U-20s 0 Ireland U-20s 15, Tulloch Stadium, Inverness; IRB Junior World Championship Pool C: Ireland U-20s 30 Scotland U-20s 13, Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo