The Ireland Under-20s are hoping for a five-point return against Scotland and for other results to go their way as they bid to reach the 5th-8th place play-offs at IRB Junior World Championship in Italy.
2011 IRB JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: POOL C: Saturday, June 18
IRELAND U-20s v SCOTLAND U-20s, Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo, 8.10pm local time/7.10pm Irish time
Team News: Ireland Under-20 head coach Mike Ruddock has made five changes to the starting line-up for this game which will decide where in the knockout stages Ireland will compete.
Iain Henderson returns in the second row to partner Michael Kearney, while in the back row Dominic Gallagher comes in at openside with Jordi Murphy moving to the number 8 position.
The three changes in the back-line see the return of Ulster’s Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall at out-half and first centre respectively, while Andrew Boyle will start on the left wing.
Speaking from the team base in Italy, Ruddock said: “Following two very physical battles, we have turned our attention to a Scotland team that is much improved from the Six Nations.
“They played very well against England and play a very expansive offloading game. We will have to be at our best to beat them and that is our goal.
“I have made five changes to the starting line-up with experienced players like Luke Marshall, Paddy Jackson and Andrew Boyle coming back into the team.”
Meanwhile, Scotland boss Peter Wright have selected an unchanged side for the clash in Rovigo, backing the 15 players who put it up to Six Nations champions England in midweek.
There are two changes on the replacements bench. In the five/two forwards-backs split, out-half Stuart Edwards and back rower Alex Spence have both passed fitness tests and are preferred to Melrose duo Craig Jackson and Grant Runciman.
Other than the suspended Stuart Hogg, all other players in the 26-strong Scotland squad were available for selection.
Scottish manager John Manson said the players had taken confidence from so much of their performance against England, two late tries giving a gloss to the English outfit’s 39-18 victory.
“We have improved from the Six Nations and there is a real belief in the squad that we are capable of scoring points and tries against some of the best teams,” he explained.
The challenge for the Scots is to get the better of an Irish side also searching for their first success in the competition and who have proved indomitable opponents at this age grade, winning five of the last six contests between the countries.
IRELAND U-20: Tiernan O’Halloran (Galwegians/Connacht); Andrew Conway (Blackrock/Leinster), Brendan Macken (Blackrock/Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), Andrew Boyle (UCD/Leinster); Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Kieran Marmion (UWIC/Exile); James Tracy (UCD/Leinster), Niall Annett (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) (capt), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Michael Kearney (Clontarf/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster), Eoin McKeon (Galwegians/Connacht), Dominic Gallagher (Dublin University/Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster).
Replacements: David Doyle (UCD/Leinster), Conor Carey (Ballymena/Ulster), Daniel Qualter (Buccaneers/Connacht), Shane Buckley (Garryowen/Munster), Peter du Toit (UCD/Leinster), James McKinney (Queen’s University/Ulster), Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster).
SCOTLAND U-20: Glenn Bryce (Stirling County); Sam Atkin (Edinburgh Accies), Mark Bennett (Clermont Auvergne), Danny Gilmour (Stirling County), Kerr Gossman (Glasgow Hawks); Duncan Weir (Glasgow Warriors) (capt), Sean Kennedy (Stirling County); Alex Allan (Loughborough University), David Cherry (Team Northumbria), Colin Phillips (Edinburgh Rugby/Stewart’s Melville), Mitchell Todd (Nottingham), Robert McAlpine (West of Scotland/Glasgow Warriors), Mitch Eadie (Boroughmuir), Hamish Watson (Leicester Tigers), James Tyas (Bath).
Replacements: Richard Ferguson (Melrose), George Hunter (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), Robin Hislop (Edinburgh Rugby/Boroughmuir), Jamie Swanson (Boroughmuir), Jamie Stevenson (Westcombe Park), Stuart Edwards (Stirling County), Alex Spence (Heriot’s).
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland U-20s to win: 1/18; Draw: 25/1; Scotland U-20s to win: 7/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Niall Annett (Ireland U-20s) – “It is very difficult, having done it last year I know how it feels afterwards. You are putting your body through hell, but it is worth it afterwards if you get a win. And we need to go out against Scotland and get that win and that’s the reality.
“We saw the second half of that game (England v Scotland) and the Scots look to be a very good outfit, so our work is going to be cut out for us.”
Peter Wright (Scotland U-20s) – “I was very proud of the performance against England, apart from the last five minutes. We caused them trouble and made them make mistakes. The players showed a lot of character and scored two good tries in the second half.
“We’ve worked hard on our attack over the last few days in training, that showed against England. It’s three games in eight days, it’s hard work for the players but they’ll be up for this game.”
Pre-Match Links –
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