Sunday 25 February 2018

Clarke gunning for Scottish scalp

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IRELAND U-20s will look to sign off on their season with a win this afternoon as they play for ninth place at the Junior World Championships against Scotland in Argentina (4.0 Irish time).

Allen Clarke has made five changes to the side who enjoyed their first victory of the tournament against Samoa last week, with centre duo Nevin Spence and Eoin Griffin recalled alongside lock David O'Callaghan, scrum-half John Cooney and back-row Dominic Ryan.

The Irish came to the tournament with high expectations on the back of their Six Nations win, but their disappointing pool result sees them working the graveyard shift in the regional city of Parana.

Since arriving in Argentina, captain Rhys Ruddock was whisked away to New Zealand to give a positive account for himself against the Maori, while star full-back Andrew Conway earned himself a full contract with Leinster.

Conway, Simon Zebo, stand-in skipper Niall Annett and Paddy Butler are the only players to have started all five games, while Ruddock has proved a huge loss.

Ireland haven't met their own expectations, with a lack of composure in attack letting them down, but they will look to finish their campaign as they did the Six Nations when they thumped the Scots 44-15 in Athlone.

That night saw the culmination of their confidence and good play in poor conditions, and perhaps the five-try victory over a limited Samoa team will give the side a similar boost.

However, Clarke expects Scotland, who have beaten Tonga twice in a week to reach the play-off, to be looking for revenge this afternoon.

"I have no doubt, that's an absolute given," he said. "They're a proud nation of people. I watched them against Tonga and as soon as you stand off them you have problems, so we're approaching the game with the mindset that we'll take out their defence with our line speed."

Verdict: Ireland

IRELAND -- A Conway (Blackrock); A Boyle (UCD), E Griffin (Corinthians), N Spence (Ballynahinch), S Zebo (Cork Constitution); N Reid (UCD), J Cooney (UCD); B Cagney (UCC), N Annett (capt, Belfast Harlequins), M Moore (Lansdowne); D O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution), B Hayes (Cork Constitution); D Ryan (Lansdowne), B O'Hara (UL Bohemian), P Butler (Shannon). Reps: D Doyle (UCD), D Buckley (Corinthians), J Murphy (Blackrock), R O'Sullivan (Bective), M Heaney (Belfast Harlequins), J McKinney (Queens), M Kelleher (Richmond).

Irish Independent

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