Ireland and Wales U20’s kick off a big weekend of Six Nations Rugby in Dublin tonight when they go head to head at Donnybrook Stadium, kick off 19:15.
The squad features six Ulster players with Jonny Stewart returning to the fold, after senior Ulster duty, and Banbridge’s James Hume has recovered from a leg fracture to gain his first cap at this level. Hume partners Queens University’s Angus Curtis in the centre and Ballymena’s Matthew Agnew continues in the back row.
Banbridge’s Tom O’Toole and Ballymena’s Angus Kernohan keep their places on the bench for the third successive match.
Ireland U20’s currently lie fourth in the Six Nations table after a narrow defeat to France and a narrow win against Italy. Performances haven’t been overwhelming to date and they have struggled to find an 80 minute performance. However, that’s pretty much power for the course at this level and, as I said before, the U20 Six Nations is really about building towards a squad for the World Championship in June.
Despite good individual performances from Harry Byrne and James McCarthy the backs have yet to gel and the return of the experienced Stewart and the inclusion of Hume should help. Hume, in particular, has a chance to make his mark as this is the third centre partnership in three games and none of them have really clicked.
Up front, the return of Ronan Kelleher, after a late withdrawal last time, is a welcome boost as the hooker ads a bit of pace and aggression to the front row. So far the pack have been fairly workman like and the back row lost their way somewhat in the second half last time out so I’m expecting a bit more fronting up in this one.
The first two matches went pretty much as expected results wise but this is a game that Ireland will be expecting to win and they wont be able to drift out of the game for long periods like they did against the Italians.
|Ireland U20||Wales U20|
|Michael Silvester (Leinster)||15||Cai Evans (Ospreys)|
|Tommy O’Brien (Leinster)||14||Joe Goodchild (Dragons)|
|James Hume (Ulster)||13||Callum Carson (Ospreys)|
|Angus Curtis (Ulster)||12||Max Llewellyn (Cardiff Blues)|
|James McCarthy (Munster)||11||Tommy Rogers (Scarlets)|
|Harry Byrne (Leinster)||10||Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues)|
|Jonny Stewart (Ulster)||9||Harri Morgan (Ospreys)|
|Jordan Duggan (Leinster)||1||Josh Reynolds (Dragons)|
|Ronan Kelleher (Leinster)||2||Iestyn Harris (Cardiff Blues)|
|Jack Aungier (Leinster)||3||Rhys Henry (Ospreys)|
|Cormac Daly (Leinster)||4||Owen Lloyd (Cardiff Blues)|
|Jack Dunne (Leinster)||5||Max Williams (Dragons)|
|Sean Masterson (Connacht)||6||Tommy Reffell (Leicester) (c)|
|Matthew Agnew (Ulster)||7||James Botham (Cardiff Blues)|
|Jack O’Sullivan (Munster)||8||Taine Basham (Dragons)|
|Diarmuid Barron (Munster)||16||Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues)|
|James French (Munster)||17||Dewi Lake (Ospreys)|
|Tom O’Toole (Ulster)||18||Kemsley Mathias* (Scarlets)|
|Charlie Ryan (Leinster)||19||Jack Pope (Bridgend)|
|Ronan Foley (Leinster)||20||Morgan Morris (Ospreys)|
|Hugh O’Sullivan (Leinster)||21||Dan Babos (Dragons)|
|Conor Dean (Leinster)||22||Ben Thomas (Cardiff Blues)|
|Angus Kernohan (Ulster)||23||Dafydd Smith* (Cardiff Blues)|