Thursday 13 December 2018

'Improving' U-20s look to make most of opportunity to snatch crown

Ireland U-20 manager Noel McNamara Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Ireland U-20 manager Noel McNamara Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The Ireland U-20s will have one eye on events in Wales this evening as they look for a favour in their quest to be crowned Six Nations champions.

To do so, Ireland must beat England and deny them a bonus point, while at the same time hoping for a Welsh win over France.

It's a tall order, particularly against a good England team in their own back yard, but stranger things have happened.

"Listen, it's always a challenge," head coach Noel McNamara said.

"There is still an opportunity for the boys, if results go their way, to win it. I think our focus is on beating England and anything that happens after that, happens after that.

"There is inconsistencies within the game; on one hand we have lost a half in every game that we have played so obviously that's something for us to be better at.

"We certainly would feel that there has been significant improvement through the Six Nations, but still inconsistencies."

Ireland will have to save their best performance for last if they are to pull off what would be a remarkable achievement, especially already having lost two games earlier in the campaign.

They need a big performance from their pack who will be right up against it, but in players like Jack Aungier and Jack O'Sullivan they have the quality to take it to England.

"You can't get bored with doing the simple things, there is a little bit of an element of that," McNamara admitted.

"The reality is that sometimes they don't join up the consequences of those little errors. That's not trying to stymy the instinct to counter-attack or anything like that, it's just sometimes about making the right decision at the right time. I think the boys are starting to come to terms with that.

"We didn't make many errors on Friday night (against Scotland) but, by and large, they were capitalised on."

Ireland can ill-afford any sloppy defensive errors because England will not hesitate in punishing them.

They are capable of causing England plenty of problems in attack, but their major issue remains in defence.

If Ireland can tighten that up, it will give them a fighting chance.

Verdict: England

England U-20s - J Olowofela; G Ibitoye, F Dingwall, T Hardwick, B Loader; J Grayson, B White; T Trinder, H Walker, M Street; D Lamb, J Scott; J Basham, B Earl (capt), S Moore. Reps: G Oghre, A Seville, J Heyes, S Lewis, T Hill, R Brand, W Butler, T Seabrook.

Ireland U-20s - M Silvester; J Hume, T O'Brien (capt), A Curtis, A Kernohan; H Byrne, H O'Sullivan; J Duggan, E Clarke, J Aungier; M Dalton, J Dunne; J Dunleavy, M Agnew, J O'Sullivan. Reps: D Barron, J French, T O'Toole, R Coffey, S Masterson, J Stewart, C Dean, S O'Brien.

England U-20s v Ireland U-20s, Ricoh Arena, 8.0, Live on RTÉ2's U-20s Six Nations coverage is in association with PwC

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