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

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

The Ireland Under-20s will attempt to wrap up the Six Nations on a winning note when they travel to Avezzano to face their Italian counterparts. Mike Ruddock’s youngsters are targeting their first away victory of the campaign as they build towards the IRB Junior World Championship.

2013 RBS UNDER-20 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, March 15

ITALY UNDER-20s (6th) v IRELAND UNDER-20s (3rd), Stadio dei Marsi, Avezzano, 7pm local time/6pm Irish time (live RTÉ website)

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20 team, sponsored by PwC, has been named to face Italy in their final match of the Under-20 Six Nations Championship on Friday.

Head coach Mike Ruddock has made five changes in personnel to the team that overcame France 22-5 in their last outing in Athlone.

Darragh Leader, a second half replacement against the French, comes in at full-back to replace Stuart Olding who has been called up for provincial duty with Darren Sweetnam named on the right wing.

Front rowers Ryan Furniss and John Andrew will make their first starts of the Championship alongside loosehead prop Peter Dooley.

Andrew will don the number 2 jersey, taking over from George McGuigan who is recovering from a knock he picked up in the previous round. Furniss will fill the tighthead role vacated by Christopher Taylor.

Sean McCarthy comes into the starting line-up in place of Gavin Thornbury, forming a second row partnership with John Donnan.

Meanwhile, bottom side Italy suffered a heavy 52-7 defeat away to England in the previous round and their coaches have backed the same players to bounce back against Ireland, making just three changes.

Centre Andrea Bettin and scrum half Marcello Violi have been promoted from the replacements bench in the only alterations to the backs division.

Leicester Tigers’ Tiziano Pasquali continues at tighthead prop in an unchanged front row, and Alessio Zdrilich and Michele Andreotti have been retained in the second row.

Crociati clubman Vittorio Marazzi takes over from Jacopo Salvetti at openside flanker, but there is no place for Gianmarco Vian who scored Italy’s only try as a replacement in their four loss of the campaign in Northampton.

ITALY U-20: Angelo Esposito (Benetton Treviso) (capt); David Michael Odiete (Zebre), Michele Campagnaro (Benetton Treviso), Andrea Bettin (Petrarca Padova), Filippo Guarducci (Marchiol Mogliano); Edoardo Padovani (Marchiol Mogliano), Marcello Violi (Crociati Rugby); Luca Scarsini (Cammi Calvisano), Alain Moriconi (UR Capitolina), Tiziano Pasquali (Leicester Tigers), Alessio Zdrilich (Cammi Calvisano), Michele Andreotti (Cammi Calvisano), Andrea Trotta (Nuova Rugby Roma), Vittorio Marazzi (Crociati Rugby), Maxime Mbanda’ (Rugby Grande Milano).

Replacements: Luca Conti (L’Aquila Rugby), Cherif Traore (Rugby Viadana), Rudy Biancotti (Valtellina Rugby Sondalo), Giacomo Riedo (Zhermack Badia), Gianmarco Vian (M-Three San Donà), Simone Marinaro (Fiamme Oro), Filippo Buscema (UR Capitolina), Giovanni Benvenuti (Marchiol Mogliano).

IRELAND U-20: Darragh Leader (Galwegians/Connacht); Darren Sweetnam (UCC/Munster), Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster), Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); Steve Crosbie (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) (capt); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), John Andrew (Ballymena/Ulster), Ryan Furniss (Worcester Warriors/Exiles), Sean McCarthy (Shannon/Munster), John Donnan (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Conor Joyce (Malone/Ulster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), Ryan Murphy (Dolphin/Munster).

Replacements: Bryan Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Adam Boland (Lansdowne/Leinster), Brian Scott (UCC/Munster), Jerry Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), David Shanahan (Clontarf/Leinster), Eogháin Quinn (Lansdowne/Leinster), David Panther (Corinthians/Connacht).

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Arnaud Blondel, Cédric Clavé (both France)
Television Match Official: Philippe Bonhoure (France)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Italy U-20s to win: 11/2; Draw: 33/1; Ireland U-20s to win: 1/12

Pre-Match Quotes – Mike Ruddock (Ireland U-20s): “Despite the fact that we are missing a few frontliners due to injury and unavailability we have still been able to select a strong side.

“We are looking forward to a very physical encounter against the Italian side. We are obviously looking to build on our win from last week to take us through into the IRB Junior World Championship.

“We have added some new combinations to the bench as we look towards the summer.”

Match Facts –

– The Italy Under-20s have lost their last 14 matches at this level

– Italy’s only win in the tournament since 2008 remains their 9-7 victory over Scotland at Stirling in March 2011

– Italy are out to try and avoid a fourth whitewash in the last five years

– The Ireland Under-20s’ last seven matches have all been won by the home side on the day. Mike Ruddock’s youngsters have not been victorious on the road in the Championship since their trip to Scotland in round 2 last year

– Ireland have won all 19 previous matches against Italy at either Under-20 or Under-21 level

– Centre Tom Daly, who kicked five penalties and a conversion in a man-of-the-match performance against France, is the third top points scorer in the tournament with 40 points

Recent Meetings –

2010: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 39 Italy U-20s 0, Dubarry Park; Friendly International: Ireland U-20s 29 Italy U-20s 10, Donnybrook

2011: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Italy U-20s 9 Ireland U-20s 28, Stadio XXV Aprile, Parma

2012: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 27 Italy U-20s 8, Dubarry Park; IRB Junior World Championship Pool B: Ireland U-20s 41 Italy U-20s 12, Cape Town Stadium