Ireland U20’s coach Peter Malone has made six changes to the starting XV for this win or bust match against Scotland, their second pool match in the 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship. With both teams losing their opening fixtures there is little room to manoeuvre if either side is going to place higher than eighth.
This compact and attritional tournament tends to favour those coaches that trust the full depth of their squad and Ireland’s depth is already being well-tested by injuries and withdrawals, the latest casualty being hooker Diarmuid Barron who fractured his thumb in the opening exchanges of Wednesday’s game and has been replaced by Adam Moloney, who comes straight onto the bench.
However, I’d guess that the management team were always going to mix things up in the two opening fixtures, irrespective of the results, and with a few players ruled out of the opener with niggling injuries they need to be tested now.
Unfortunately, the changes mean that there are no Ulster players starting this one, but there are three (or four) on the bench the main surprise, to me anyway, is Marcus Rea dropping out of the team altogether after a (comparatively) strong fifty minutes against the Italians.
Johnny Steward drops to the bench for the first time in seven starts with Jack Stafford starting at scrum half. Stewart is joined on the bench by out half Angus Curtis and prop Peter Cooper and we are happy to announce the inclusion of another Ulster player in the squad now that second row Jack Regan has signed for the Ulster Academy in recent weeks.
Other changes include Alan Tynan starting at full back, with Jack Kelly moving to the wing. Jordan Duggan gets a start at loosehead with Joey Conway rested and Caelan Doris returns to the back row.
The FRU Predicts: This has to be a five pointer for both sides so, hopefully, we will see Ireland U20’s edging a high scoring encounter.
Ireland U20 v Scotland U20
AIA Arena, Kutaisi, Georgia. Kickoff 13:00 local, 10:00 UK/IRE
|IRELAND U20||SCOTLAND U20|
|Alan Tynan||15||Blair Kinghorn|
|Jack Kelly||14||Robbie Nairn|
|Gavin Mullin||13||Ross McCann|
|Ciaran Frawley||12||Stafford McDowall|
|Calvin Nash||11||Darcy Graham|
|Conor Dean||10||Connor Eastgate|
|Jack Stafford||9||Andrew Simmers|
|Jordan Duggan||1||George Thornton|
|Ronan Kelleher||2||Fraser Renwick|
|Charlie Connolly||3||Adam Nicol|
|Fineen Wycherley||4||Alex Craig|
|Oisin Dowling||5||Callum Hunter-Hill|
|Sean Masterson||6||Bruce Flockhart|
|Paul Boyle||7||Luke Crosbie|
|Caelan Doris||8||Matt Fagerson|
|Adam Moloney||16||Robbie Smith|
|Greg McGrath||17||Fergus Bradbury|
|Peter Cooper||18||Ross Dunbar|
|Jack Regan||19||Hamish Bain|
|Gavin Coombes||20||Tom Dodd|
|Jonny Stewart||21||Charlie Shiel|
|Angus Curtis||22||Josh Henderson|
|Michael Silvester||23||Patrick Anderson|