The teams have been announced for Ireland’s opening match of the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship against Wales which takes place at the Manchester City Academy Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Kick off 17:30 UK/Ire live on Sky Sports TG4 and S4C.
The teams last met in the RBS Six Nations in February at Donnybrook with the Welsh winning that entertaining encounter 35 – 24.
Changes since the Last Meeting
There are three changes to the Welsh starting XV and eight changes to Ireland starting line-up from the last time these two teams met, the most significant being the downgrading of Ulster’s Johnny McPhillips from the starting XV to the bench.
I don’t know much about McPhillips’ replacement, Bill Johnstone, as he was injured throughout the Six Nations, but, by all accounts, he’s a quality player. He did play for Munster against Ulster U20’s at Queen’s Arena in 2015 but didn’t stand out in that encounter!
Ireland’s other changes are primarily due to injury with Conor Kenny stepping up from the bench to start at tight-head, alongside regulars Adam McBurney and Andrew Porter, and Cillian Gallagher moves from the back row to the second row, alongside captain James Ryan. Greg Jones and David Aspil form the back row with regular Max Deenan, Aspil making his first appearance at this level.
The impressive Stephen Kerins starts at scrum-half having shown the best form over the Six Nations with Hugo Keenan, Shane Daly and Matthew Byrne maintain their staring positions. Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale takes over the full-back berth in an attempt to get the powerful and pacey runner more involved and Conor O’Bryne joins Daly in midfield having battled his way into the partnership for the last two games of the Six Nations.
In the replacements Vincent O’Brien and Vakh Abdaladze form the front row replacements alongside Ben Betts and Sean O’Connor and Kelvin Brown cover second row and back row respectively as they did for much of the Six Nations.
Jimmy O’Brien joins McPhillips as backs replacement giving Ireland a couple of players who can mix things up if required and they are joined by Niall Saunders who made an impression when he came off the bench against Italy.
The Teams In Full
|WALES U20||IRELAND U20|
|COREY DOMACHOWSKI||1||ANDREW PORTER|
|DAFYDD HUGHES||2||ADAM MCBURNEY|
|DILLON LEWIS||3||CONOR KENNY|
|SHANE LEWIS-HUGHES||4||CILLIAN GALLAGHER|
|ADAM BEARD||5||JAMES RYAN|
|TOM PHILLIPS||6||GREG JONES|
|SHAUN EVANS||7||DAVID ASPIL|
|HARRISON KEDDIE||8||MAX DEEGAN|
|REUBEN MORGAN-WILLIAMS||9||STEPHEN KERINS|
|DAN JONES||10||BILL JOHNSTON|
|KEELAN GILES||11||HUGO KEENAN|
|HARRI MILLARD||12||CONOR O’BRIEN|
|JOE THOMAS||13||SHANE DALY|
|KIERAN WILLIAMS||14||MATTHEW BYRNE|
|RHUAN WILLIAMS||15||JACOB STOCKDALE|
|LIAM BELCHER||16||VINCENT O’BRIEN|
|RHYS FAWCETT||17||VAKH ABDALADZE|
|LEON BROWN||18||BEN BETTS|
|SEBASTIAN DAVIES||19||SEAN O’CONNOR|
|JOSHUA MACLEOD||20||KELVIN BROWN|
|DECLAN SMITH||21||NIALL SAUNDERS|
|JARROD EVANS||22||JOHNNY MCPHILLIPS|
|BILLY MCBRYDE||23||JIMMY O’BRIEN|
How Ireland will win
Wales completed a convincing Grand Slam in the Six Nations but it all could have ended before it began if Ireland hadn’t gifted them upwards of fifteen points in their meeting at Donnybrook.
Their impressive pack and defensive line speed forced Ireland to cough up the points but if our lads can show just a touch more composure under pressure and if they can keep the big Welsh pack moving around the pitch they should have more than enough fire power in the back line to win this one, and it could conceivably be convincingly so.
The FRU Predicts: I suspect it’ll take both sides a while to settle in this one but I expect the Welsh to enjoy the better of the the opening exchanges. However, Ireland should finish the stronger and just edge past their opponents in the closing minutes.
Players to Watch
Ireland’s James Ryan and Wales’ Harrison Keddie both impressed in the forward trenches last time out, whoever comes out on top in this skirmish should be on the winning team.