Ruddock backs Irish U-20s to build on solid defensive base
Ireland U-20 coach Mike Ruddock heads "home" to face Wales in Parc y Scarlets tonight, buoyed by the return of exciting duo Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy from Magners League duty with Ulster.
Ireland were disappointing when shipping six tries at home to the French, but Ruddock saw a marked improvement in Scotland last time out when the home side were completely shut out, although they did have two tries disallowed.
"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," said the Welshman. "That gives us some confidence going to Wales. We need to ensure our defence is spot on and take our chances when they come along."
Like Ireland, the Welsh have beaten Italy and Scotland so far and lost narrowly to an England side that have blazed a trail through the tournament, even beating a fancied French side.
Wales out-half Matthew Morgan helped himself to 21 points against Italy last time out, including one of his side's six tries.
"Our aim is to win the match and we believe we can do that if we perform to our potential," said Wales head coach Darren Williams.
With England expected to beat a winless Scottish side at home tonight, the scene looks set for the auld enemy to visit Dubarry Park, Athlone, next Friday night in a bid to complete the Grand Slam.
Ireland U-20 (v Wales) -- M Sherlock (Clontarf); C Gilroy (Dungannon), A Kelly (UCD), Luke Marshall (Ballymena), Andrew Boyle (UCD); P Jackson (Dungannon), B McIlroy (Ballymena); J Tracy (UCD), N Annett (Belfast Harlequins), M Moore (Lansdowne); M Kearney (Clontarf), D Qualter (Buccaneers); S Buckley (Garryowen), A Conneely (Corinthians), J Murphy (Lansdowne). Reps: D Doyle (UCD), T Furlong (Clontarf), I Henderson (Queens), C O'Flaherty (Cork Con), M Dolan (Corinthians), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians), T O'Halloran (Galwegians).
Wales U-20 (v Ireland) -- S Shingler (Llanelli); A Warren (Llandovery), B John (Aberavon), O Williams (Cardiff), H Robinson (Blues); M Morgan (Swansea), L Jones (Pontypridd); R Jones (Llanelli), K Myhill (Llanelli), W Taylor (Swansea); M Cook (capt, Cardiff), M Screech (Pontypridd); E Siggery (Pontypridd), L Hamilton (Glamorgan Wanderers), B Thomas (Bridgend). Reps: S Parry (Llandovery), R Evans (Carmarthen Quins), C Hill (Pontypridd), O Sheppeard (Pontypridd), J Evans (Newport), R James (Carmarthen Quins), J Griffin (Cardiff).
Ireland U-20 v Wales U-20, Live, RTE 2, 7.10