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Ruddock calls on Ireland to raise game for Wales finale

The Ireland U-20 side will bid for their best-ever finish at the Junior World Championship tomorrow when they take on Wales in a battle for seventh place in Treviso (11.0am Irish time).

Ireland's best finish in the tournament was two years ago in Japan when they came eighth, but tomorrow's game could be their last in the competition for some time due to the IRFU's plan to pull out of next year's event in South Africa, primarily because of player-welfare issues.

Last year, Ireland finished ninth after losing all three pool games and that gave them a poor seeding, which saw the U-20s pooled with England and South Africa this year and, effectively, gave them little chance of making the semi-finals.


England will tomorrow bid to halt New Zealand's domination in the tournament as the Baby Blacks go for their fourth title.

Ireland will look to finish on a high tomorrow after a tournament in which they underperformed.

Grand Slam winners England should have been beaten on the opening night and while Ireland produced a storming finish to defeat Scotland in their third pool game, the chasm between them and South Africa increased when they met twice in nine days, with the Baby Boks winning the first game 42-26 and the second 57-15.

Now Mike Ruddock will bid for a good finish against his native Wales, but he knows they will need to recover from their midweek trouncing.

"We came off a lot of tackles and were punished against South Africa and we need to get that right," said Ruddock, who will finalise his side today for the clash at Stadio di Monigo.

"Both sides play well when they hold the ball as both have exciting backs. But at this stage the freshest team will win it."

Irish Independent