Ireland U-20s aim to avoid World Cup relegation
On the face of it, three defeats on the bounce doesn't look great at all, but a small bit of perspective is needed as the Ireland U-20s look for a win over Samoa today that would steer them away from being relegated from next year's Junior World Cup.
Last week's thumping defeat to a seriously impressive New Zealand side has further dampened the mood surrounding the squad and the five injuries that resulted from that game has brought the body count to 17. Whatever way you dress it up, that is an incredible amount of players to be missing for any nation, let alone one that is the size of Ireland.
A handful of players who started the Six Nations campaign remain as Peter Malone has been forced to dig deep into the talent pool. The head coach has at least been able to recall the likes of Calvin Nash, Fineen Wycherley and skipper Paul Boyle for this crucial clash against Samoa.
Like Ireland, the Samoans lost all three of their pool games and while they were on the end of two drubbings by England and Wales, they did push Australia close.
"Things didn't go to plan in the pool stages, but now it's about digging deep and looking to get a result," Malone said. "They caused problems throughout their pool and we know they're going to be very physical."
Regardless of this morning's result, Ireland will face one final clash on Sunday. A win today would help avoid a very nervy finish at the weekend.
Ireland U-20: A Tynan; M Silvester, G Mullin, C Frawley, C Nash; C Dean, J Stafford; J Duggan, R Kelleher, P Cooper; F Wycherley, O Dowling; G Coombes, P Boyle (capt), C Doris. Reps: A Moloney, J Conway, C Connolly, J Regan, J Foley, J Stewart, D McCarthy, M Keane.
Samoa U-20: E Ene; D Moore, T Tele'a, K Foaese, A Pohla-Murray; T Fonoti, H Tagoai; S Enoka, N Sanft (capt), A Ielemia; T Solipo, J Togafau; F Ah Him, C Faalili, F Tuipolotu. Reps: P Ikenasio, S Asomua, F Tupuola, S Solomona, P Toeafe, W Setu, P Ah See, G Tinei.
Ireland U-20 v Samoa U-20, live, eir Sport 1, 10.0am