Sport Rugby

Friday 26 May 2017

Clarke braced for Les Bleus

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

AFTER seeing them live up to their billing as a team dripping with attacking talent in the 39-0 demolition job of Italy in Athlone last weekend, Ireland U-20 coach Allen Clarke has kept faith with the same players for the trip to France.

Ireland recorded a 9-6 win over Les Bleus last year but will find the French, who had to settle for an 8-8 draw away to Scotland last weekend, to be a much different proposition in Stade de la Chevaliere in Mazamet tonight.

The replacements bench is also unchanged, with all seven players having seen action in the second half against Italy while hat-trick try hero from last weekend, wing Darren Hudson, will be looking to continue his good form. Cork Con and Munster speedster Simon Zebo continues on the other wing with Andrew Conway completing the back three.

"We are aware that we have a much tougher game ahead of us on Friday than we had last weekend," Clarke said.

"That being said, we have prepared and planned well for this fixture. The team gelled well last weekend and we are focused on the task ahead."

Meanwhile, the Irish women's team shows five changes from that which beat Italy 22-5 at Ashbourne RFC last weekend.

Coach Kevin West has recalled experienced trio Orla Brennan, Amy Davis and Sinead Ryan for the trip to Stade des Allees in Blois tonight (kick-off 7.0), while Gillian Bourke and Caroline Mahon have been promoted from the bench.

Those five players have over 60 international caps between them and will bring a level of experience to the side as they face a tough French outfit that lost 10-8 to Scotland in their opener.

Fiona Coghlan, who got the Irish try during last season's historic 7-5 win over the French in Ashbourne, continues at prop while Joanne O'Sullivan will direct operations from out-half.

Ireland (U-20 v France) -- A Conway; D Hudson, B Macken, N Spence, S Zebo; J McKinney, J Cooney; B Cagney, N Annett, J O'Connell; D O'Callaghan, B Marshall; R Ruddock, D Ryan, P Butler. Reps: D Doyle, S Maguire, B Hayes R O'Sullivan, M Heaney, B Kingston, E Griffin.

Ireland U-20 v France U-20

Live, RTE 2 , 7.45

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