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

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

The Ireland Under-20s go in search of their third win in this year’s RBS U-20 6 Nations when they meet their Welsh counterparts in Llanelli. Both sides have beaten Italy and Scotland so far, so this is a key game.

2011 RBS UNDER-20 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, March 11

WALES U-20s (3rd) v IRELAND U-20s (4th), Parc y Scarlets, 7.10pm (live RTÉ Two/RTÉ website)

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Team News: The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, travel to Wales this weekend for their penultimate match in this year’s RBS U-20 6 Nations.

Head coach Mike Ruddock welcomes back centre Luke Marshall and winger Craig Gilroy from Magners League duty with Ulster.

Fresh from scoring his first senior try for Ulster, Marshall will reform his centre partnership with Alex Kelly and Gilroy, Ulster’s top try scorer in the league, returns on the right wing.

They are the only two changes to the team that defeated Scotland 15-0 last time out. JJ Hanrahan and Tiernan O’Halloran make way and take up spots on the replacements bench.

Looking forward to building on that win in Inverness, Ruddock said: “We saw a big improvement, particularly in terms of our line speed in defence and in the collision which we dominated a lot more than we did against France.

“That gives us some confidence going to Wales. It will be extremely tough against the Welsh side as they seem to be playing with great confidence.

“We need to ensure our defence is spot on and take our chances when they come along.”

Tickets for Friday’s match are priced at £10 for adults and £5 for Under-16s and are available now from the Parc y Scarlets ticket office (tel: 08718718088) and from Ticketmaster (tel: 08442777888). Click here for directions to the ground.

Meanwhile, Wales Under-20 head coach Darren Edwards has made four changes to the side that beat Italy 46-15 in their last game.

Aberavon’s Ben John joins Owen Williams at centre, Rhodri Jones replaces Rob Evans at loosehead prop, Matthew Screech comes in for his Pontypridd team-mate Cory Hill at lock and Luke Hamilton starts at openside flanker in place of Callum Thomas.

Edwards said: “With this selection, we are pretty close to our strongest side but there are still a few places up for grabs where players have been given some extra game-time to prove themselves.

“Our main aim is to keep up the momentum we have shown in our games so far in this Championship. Even when we have been down to 14 men, we have played high tempo, running rugby and we want to maintain that on Friday.

“Like us, Ireland have beaten Scotland and Italy so far and despite a home loss to France, they will be a well-drilled side, coached by former Wales coach Mike Ruddock.

“However, our aim is to win the match and we believe we can do that if we perform to our potential,” he added.

WALES U-20: Steve Shingler (Scarlets/Llanelli); Adam Warren (Llandovery), Ben John (Ospreys/Aberavon), Owen Williams (Blues/Cardiff), Harry Robinson (Blues); Matthew Morgan (Ospreys/Swansea), Lewis Jones (Pontypridd); Rhodri Jones (Scarlets / Llanelli), Kirby Myhill (Scarlets/Llanelli), Will Taylor (Ospreys/Swansea), Macauley Cook (Blues/Cardiff) (capt), Matthew Screech (Blues/Pontypridd), Edward Siggery (Pontypridd), Luke Hamilton (Blues/Glamorgan Wanderers), Ben Thomas (Ospreys/Bridgend).

Replacements: Sam Parry (Llandovery), Rob Evans (Scarlets/Carmarthen Quins), Cory Hill (Blues/Pontypridd), Owen Sheppeard (Blues/Pontypridd), Jonathan Evans (Dragons/Newport), Rheon James (Carmarthen Quins), Joseff Griffin (Blues/Cardiff).

IRELAND U-20: Michael Sherlock (Clontarf/Leinster); Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster), Alex Kelly (UCD/Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), Andrew Boyle (UCD/Leinster); Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Blane McIlroy (Ballymena/Ulster); James Tracy (UCD/Leinster), Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) (capt), Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster), Michael Kearney (Clontarf/Leinster), Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht), Shane Buckley (Garryowen/Munster), Aaron Conneely (Corinthians/Connacht), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster).

Replacements: David Doyle (UCD/Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster), Cathal O’Flaherty (Cork Constitution/Munster), Mark Dolan (Corinthians/Connacht), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster), Tiernan O’Halloran (Galwegians/Connacht).

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Claudio Blessano, Filippo Bertelli (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Stefano Marrama (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Wales U-20s to win: 2/7; Draw: 22/1; Ireland U-20s to win: 5/2

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

Recent Meetings –

2008: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 6 Wales U-20s 11, Dubarry Park

2009: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Wales U-20s 6 Ireland U-20s 9, Parc y Scarlets; IRB Junior World Championship – 5th-8th Place Play-Off: Ireland U-20s 17 Wales U-20s 19, Level 5 Stadium, Fukuoka

2010: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 24 Wales U-20s 17, Dubarry Park