Monday 26 February 2018

Character and experience can guide U-20s past English – Ruddock

Ireland U20 head coach Mike Ruddock
Ireland U20 head coach Mike Ruddock
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

AFTER going down to a well-drilled Wales last time out, things don't get any easier for Mike Ruddock's U-20 side as they take on England at Franklin's Gardens tonight.

Ireland are licking their wounds after failing to score at home to the Welsh on a difficult night in Athlone but Ruddock expects his side to learn from the experience.

"There were some harsh lessons learned and the team will have to dig deep and find a quality performance to get a result against a strong English team," Ruddock said.

"There is plenty of character and experience within this squad and that should stand to them."

The Grand Slam-winning former Wales coach has made three changes to his match-day squad. The injured Jack O'Donohoe is replaced by Ulster's Frankie Taggart in the back-row, with Michael Trigg coming onto the bench.


Centre Dan Goggins is promoted from the bench to replace Garry Ringrose, while Adam Byrne comes in for Ian Fitzpatrick on the wing. Those switches also see Harrison Brewer, son of former Leinster assistant coach Mike, come onto the bench.

Sean O'Brien has recovered from the injury he picked up early in the game against Wales to continue his second-row partnership with Ross Molony.

Like Ireland, England have recorded a win and a defeat from their two outings so far, with their defeat coming away to a French side that were reduced to 14 men for almost the final 20 minutes in the opening round.

However, their hand has been strengthened considerably since then as they recall two members of last year's Junior World Championship winning team in prop Scott Wilson and centre Harry Sloan.

Sloan has gone on to even bigger things since that triumph and was fast-tracked to the Saxons set-up earlier this year.

"It's fantastic for Scott that he has had recognition from the Saxons already this season, but his job, and our job, is to go out and perform well against Ireland," said England coach Nick Walshe.

"The guys have trained well this week and heading back to Franklin's Gardens is always special. It's a proper rugby venue, and we'll be looking to go out there and play as well as we can in front of a good home crowd."

Verdict: England

England – N Earle, Z Kibirige, N Tompkins, H Sloan, H Packman; B Burns, C Braley (capt); A Lundberg, H Thacker, S Wilson; M Itoje, C Ewels; R Moriarty, J Conlon, J Chisholm. Reps: J Walker, D Hobbs-Awoyemi, P Hill, T Ellis, G Jones, H Taylor, S Olver, H Purdy.

Ireland – D Busby, C Kelleher, D Goggins, P Robb, A Byrne; R Byrne, N McCarthy; P Dooley, M Abbott, R Burke; S O'Brien, R Molony; P Timmins, D Leavy (capt), F Taggart. Reps: S McNulty, D Coulson, O Heffernan, J Joyce, M Trigg, J Cullen, C McKeon, H Brewer.

Irish Independent

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