Friday 23 February 2018

We expect a serious test against Italy - McNamara

 

Ireland U20's head coach Noel McNamara Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Ireland U20's head coach Noel McNamara Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

For several of the Ireland U-20s players, last week's Six Nations opener in France was a baptism of fire and while they will be better for it, the youngsters know they can ill-afford to make such a slow start again.

Italy are the visitors to Donnybrook this evening (7.15), as Ireland look to get their campaign back on track.

Ireland were superior in the second half last week but the damage had been done early on against a quality French side who took full advantage at home.

Noel McNamara's charges will be expected to bounce back in style and get the weekend's action off to a positive start from an Irish point of view.

Joe Schmidt is expected to be in the crowd and he will be keeping a close eye on the likes of skipper Tommy O'Brien, Harry Byrne and Jack O'Sullivan - all of whom impressed in Bordeaux.

Experienced

"We played Italy during the summer with the Leinster U-20s and we watched them play against England," McNamara said.

"They ran a very experienced England side very close. It was a tight-run affair over there so we will expect a serious test.

"They have six players returning from the pack last year and the team that beat Ireland in the Junior Rugby World Cup.

"Their starting 10 is back so they have a lot of experience. They will be coming back here in a very positive frame of mind and looking for a result.

"We need to go about our business in the right way or we will be in for a very difficult evening."

Ireland should have far too much quality for Italy but they must prove that they have learned lessons from last week.

If they do that, a win should follow, which would give the players a huge boost for the remainder of the tournament.

Verdict: Ireland

Ireland U-20s - M Silvester; P Sullivan, T O'Brien (capt), A Curtis, J McCarthy; H Byrne, H O'Sullivan; J Duggan, R Kelleher, J Aungier; C Daly, J Dunne; S Masterson, M Agnew, J O'Sullivan. Reps: E Clarke, J French, T O'Toole, C Ryan, R Foley, P Patterson, C Dean, A Kernohan.

Italy U-20s - A Rossi; S Cornelli, M Biondelli, D Mazza, T Coppo; A Rizzi, N Casilio; D Fishetti, M Luccardi, M Mancini Parri; N Cannone, M Canali; M Lamaro (capt), J Bianchi, L Manni. Reps: N Taddia, L Mariottini, F Romano, E Iachizzi, E Ghigo, L Bacchi, F Di Marco, A Fusco.

REF - D Jones (Wales).

Independent.ie's U-20s Six Nations coverage is in association with PwC

Irish Independent

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