Sunday 22 April 2018

Ruddock urges U-20s to be more clinical in French test

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Mike Ruddock wants to see a more clinical performance when his Ireland U-20s take on France in Grenoble this afternoon.

Ireland needed late drop goals from skipper Paddy Jackson and replacement scrum-half Luke McGrath to see off a stubborn Wales side in Athlone last weekend, despite dominating the game for long periods.

"I thought our performance against Wales was 10 out of 10 for intent, but just seven out of 10 for execution, so there is room for improvement," said Ruddock.

"We know we have to keep working on our set-piece. Our scrum and line-out can go up a level. We can get our alignment better and get our passes away, and that will make a big difference."

Ruddock has made three changes, with Conor Finn replacing wing Barry Daly who is out for six weeks with a broken thumb.

McGrath takes over from Kieran Marmion at scrum-half after an impressive showing on his 19th birthday when introduced against Wales. Chris Farrell starts at outside-centre instead of Foster Horan, having come off the bench last week.

Ulster star Jackson continues to skipper the side from No 10 despite a bad night with the boot at Dubarry Park, missing four kicks before recovering to land that late drop goal.

"He showed great professionalism to take the responsibility on his shoulders after missing a few kicks," said Ruddock.

"He showed a lot of mental toughness to do that. Full credit to him."

France were due to face Italy last weekend but that match was called off due to the bad weather.

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland U-20 (v France) -- S Layden (Connacht); C Finn (Connacht), C Farrell (Ulster), JJ Hanrahan (Munster), S Coghlan Murray (Leinster); P Jackson (Ulster, capt), L McGrath (Leinster); K McCall (Ulster), N Scannell (Munster), P Reilly (Leinster); I Henderson (Ulster), D Qualter (Connacht); C Gilsenan (Leinster), A Conneely (Connacht), J Conan (Leinster). Reps: D Merrey (Leinster), J Rael (Munster), D Higgins (Connacht), T Beirne (Leinster), J Coughlan (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), C Marsh (Leinster), F Horan (Leinster).

Irish Independent

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