Monday 17 June 2019

McNamara: Focus on discipline paying off for U-20s

Ireland under-20 head coach Noel McNamara. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ireland under-20 head coach Noel McNamara. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

This year's crop of Ireland U-20s are the gift that keep on giving and having gotten their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start in Argentina by beating England, the show now rolls on to Australia.

The Grand Slam champions were impressive in dismantling a strong English side for the second time this year, but they will have to plan for Saturday's meeting with the Aussies without No 8 Azur Allison, who misses out with a head injury.

It means that Ireland are now down another back-row, yet as this team has proven time and time again, the bigger the test, the more they rise to the occasion.

Like Ireland, Australia got their tournament off to a winning start by beating Italy (36-12) and they will come in to the game full of confidence.

Reflecting on the enthralling 42-26 win over England, Noel McNamara was proud of the character that his players showed, particularly in keeping their discipline when England's went out the window.

"It was obviously a strange game with the two yellow cards and one red that England experienced," the head coach maintained.

"Tactically for them, they were trying to slow the game down and almost while away those periods, while we were obviously trying to do the opposite.

"So it certainly presented us with challenges and I think our tactical approach could have been a little bit better in how we managed those periods when England were down a player.

"I suppose we invited some pressure on ourselves and conceded a couple of tries that we really wouldn't be happy with.

"I think discipline is so important. It's obviously one of the areas that we have had a big focus on throughout the course of the year.

"We have had referees in to referee training, we have had a number of modules for the players and I think that was really evident (against England)."

Australia will provide a much different challenge than anything Ireland have faced this year, and McNamara warned of their threat.

"I think one of the things that strikes you is how good their defence is - how physical they are.

"They have a very, very strong pack in particular. If you look at their last three games, I think they have only conceded two tries between Fiji, New Zealand and Italy. And the two tries that they conceded against Italy came in the last 10 minutes.

"That gives an indication of the challenge they pose, particularly in terms of their defence."

Irish Independent

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