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Junior World Championship Preview: Wales Under-20s v Ireland Under-20s

Junior World Championship Preview: Wales Under-20s v Ireland Under-20s

The Ireland Under-20s, sponsored by PwC, meet their Welsh counterparts in the second round of pool matches at the IRB Junior World Championship, knowing that the result is vital in determining the path both sides take in the tournament.


WALES UNDER-20s (1st) v IRELAND UNDER-20s (3rd), ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe, 5.35pm local time/6.35am Irish time (live TG4/Sky Sports 1, red button)

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Team News: Ireland Under-20 head coach Mike Ruddock has made two changes to the side that started the 19-13 defeat to Grand Slam champions France on Monday.

Munster Academy member Alex Wootton, who makes his first appearance of the tournament, has been named on the left wing with Ian Fitzpatrick making way.

Up front, Darragh Moloney, who joins the Munster Academy for next season, is named in the second row where he partners Ross Molony.

Josh Murphy and Harrison Brewer are two new additions on the replacements bench, with both players having lined out in the Ireland Under-19s’ home win over France in April.

This latest clash with Wales is a ‘must win’ game for Ruddock’s charges, who are currently third in Pool B – with one losing bonus point – behind France (4 points) and the table-topping Welsh (5).

There will be live coverage of the Ireland v Wales encounter from Pukekohe on TG4 and Sky Sports 1 (red button).

Meanwhile, Wales Under-20 boss Byron Hayward has made three changes to the side that lined in their 48-19 opening win over Fiji which saw them run in six tries.

Hooker Elliot Dee, flanker Will Boyde and winger Joshua Adams come in for Ethan Lewis, Scott Matthews and Dafydd Howells respectively. Those changes, Hayward believes, will ‘add to the team’.

The only player unavailable to the Welsh is back rower Ben Roach who received stitches to a deep cut to the head after scoring their last try against Fiji.

Wales were 16-0 winners when they visited Ireland during the Six Nations, with Ethan Davies kicking 11 points and captain Steffan Hughes scoring the all-important try.

For the sides’ rematch at the Junior World Championship, there are quite a number of changes from the Athlone encounter – nine in all as only centre Hughes, winger Adams, props Nicky Smith and Nicky Thomas and back rowers Boyde and James Benjamin are retained.

IRB Junior World Championship Fixtures/Results

WALES U-20: Ashley Evans (Ospreys); Tyler Morgan (Dragons), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets) (capt), Jack Dixon (Dragons), Joshua Adams (Scarlets); Angus O’Brien (Dragons), Luc Jones (Dragons); Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys), Joe Davies (Dragons), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Olly Cracknell (RGC), Will Boyde (Carmarthen) James Benjamin (Dragons)

Replacements: Scott Otten (Ospreys), Luke Garratt (Dragons), Callum Lewis (Blues), Scott Andrews (Dragons), Scott Matthews (Dragons), Tom Williams (Blues), Ethan Davies (Dragons), Afon Bagshaw (RGC).

IRELAND U-20: Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster); Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster), Alex Wootton (Garryowen/Munster); Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Nick McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), Max Abbott (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rory Burke (Cork Constitution/Munster), Darragh Moloney (Cork Constitution/Munster), Ross Molony (UCD/Leinster), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Frankie Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt).

Replacements: Dylan Donnellan (UCD/Leinster), Denis Coulson (Lansdowne/Leinster), Oisin Heffernan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Josh Murphy (UCD/Leinster), Diarmaid Dee (Young Munster/Munster), Ryan Foley (Cork Constitution/Munster), Conor McKeon (Lansdowne/Leinster), Harrison Brewer (Terenure College/Leinster).

Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Richard Kelly (New Zealand)
Television Match Official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Wales U-20s to win: 1/3; Draw: 22/1; Ireland U-20s to win: 9/4

Pre-Match Quotes – Peadar Timmins (Ireland U-20s): “We got into areas where we could have put points on the board (against Wales in the Six Nations) but we weren’t clinical and did not take our chances.

“We went into the Six Nations thinking we could win it so after such a good start against Scotland, at home, it was really disappointing to go out and flop – that’s the only word for it – like we did against Wales.

“If we take our chances, we can beat any team in the world, on our day. You’re on a world stage at a Junior World Championship, in front of everybody. There’s nowhere to hide out there.

“You’re coming up against the best players in the world at your age. You know that if you can match them, it will really build your confidence for the years ahead.

“Last year we beat Australia and Fiji and came so close to the All Blacks. Those results really makes you believe that you can take that step up to the professional world.”

Byron Hayward (Wales U-20s): “I expect it to be a tight game. Our scrum won us the Six Nations game against the Irish in Athlone and we need to maintain the pressure in that area but we need to try and play some expansive rugby too.

“Ireland’s scrum has improved, causing problems against the French, and the weather is very good at the moment so the conditions are set be different from that Six Nations game.

“It was very pleasing to produce a disciplined performance against Fiji and come away with a bonus point, but if we beat Ireland by a point, it will be a job well done.”

Pre-Match Links –

Ireland Under-20s Taste Defeat In JWC Opener

Video Highlights: France Under-20s 19 Ireland Under-20s 13

Photo Gallery: France Under-20s 19 Ireland Under-20s 13

Junior World Championship: Pool B Preview

NZ Herald: Heavyweight Trio Share Roots In Small Village In Wales

Recent Meetings –

2012: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 11 Wales U-20s 6, Dubarry Park

2013: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Wales U-20s 17 Ireland U-20s 15, Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay

2014: RBS U-20 6 Nations: Ireland U-20s 0 Wales U-20s 16, Dubarry Park