Tuesday 16 July 2019

Ireland seek positive send-off against New Zealand

Ireland's Jake Flannery. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ireland's Jake Flannery. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

As final tasks of the season go, they don't come much more difficult than New Zealand.

The Ireland U-20s will bring the curtain down on what has been a tough World Cup campaign, but one that offered plenty of hope for the future.

Regardless of what happens in this evening's seventh place play-off in Rosario, Ireland, who have been decimated by injuries, can take a lot of pride in what they achieved this year.

Winning a Grand Slam was a remarkable achievement that won't be forgotten any time soon and although the World Cup hasn't exactly gone according to plan, the margins have been quite small.

On the flip side, New Zealand are facing their worst ever finish at the tournament and consequently are under a huge amount of pressure to notch a victory against Ireland.

While the result will count towards next year's seeding, Noel McNamara is eager to make use of his squad depth and with that in mind, the head coach has made eight changes to his starting XV.

Jake Flannery and Liam Turner will start their tenth consecutive game this year which is hugely impressive considering the heavy injury toll that the squad has suffered in general.

Flannery switches to out-half, which has allowed Max O'Reilly get a start at full-back, while Turner continues at outside centre alongside Cormac Foley.

Ulster winger Angus Kernohan returns on the wing, with Russell also earning a recall on the opposite flank.

Up front, the pack is bolstered by having Josh Wycherley and Tom Clarkson packing down either side of Dylan Tierney-Martin.

The Irish lineout has been excellent all tournament and skipper Charlie Ryan can take credit for that. Ryan starts in the engine room with Thomas Ahern.

Ryan Baird continues at blindside and makes up a back-row along with Ronan Watters and Brian Deeny.

Ireland owe it to themselves to finish a fine year on a high, but after a gruelling few weeks in Argentina, that will be easier said than done against a New Zealand outfit with a point to prove.

Verdict: New Zealand

Ireland U-20s - M O'Reilly; A Kernohan, L Turner, C Foley, R Russell; J Flannery, C Casey; J Wycherley, D Tierney-Martin, T Clarkson; C Ryan (capt), T Ahern; R Baird, R Watters, B Deeny. Reps: D Adamson, M Milne, C Ward, J McKee, N Murray, L Clohessy, A Allison, C Reilly, B Healy, J Wren, D Ryan, A O'Sullivan.

New Zealand U-20s - C Forbes; E Nanai Seturo, B Proctor, Q Tupaea, L Fainga'anuku; R Reihana, T Funaki; O Norris, S Klein, F Newell; C Grace, T Vaa'i; K Boshier (capt), J Mua, S Parker. Reps: K Kereru-Symes, R Cobb, K Uluilakepa, T Williams, T Plumtree, J Thompson, K Herbery, L Carter, F Burke, D McLeod, C Fihaki.

REF: A Piardi (Italy)

Ireland U-20s v New Zealand U-20s, Live eir Sport, 5.0 (Irish time)

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