We have an indepth look at the two teams ahead of this afternoon’s 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship second round match. Kick off is at 10:30 in Arentinia, 14:30 in UK/IRE. 

The match should be streamed live here for those of us in the UK and will also be shown on EIR Sports. 

Why is this match important? 

Both teams won their opening match with a bonus point and both want to keep winning to ensure qualification for the Cup Semi Finals.

After the first round Pool B is as follows:

Pool B – Current Standings after Round 1
TEAM P W D L PF PA PD TF TA BP PTS
AUSTRALIA U20 1 1 0 0 36 12 24 5 2 1 5
IRELAND U20 1 1 0 0 42 26 16 6 3 1 5
ENGLAND U20 1 0 0 1 26 42 -16 3 6 0 0
ITALY U20 1 0 0 1 12 36 -24 2 5 0 0


With only three Pools, there is a chance that both teams could qualify for the top four but,  at the moment it looks like the best placed runner will come from Pool C containing New zealand and south Africa. 

After the first round, all the teams are ranked as follows: 

Current Ranking – All Teams after Round 1
TEAM P W D L PF PA PD TF TA BP PTS
NEW ZEALAND U20 1 1 0 0 45 13 32 7 1 1 5
SOUTH AFRICA U20 1 1 0 0 43 19 24 6 3 1 5
AUSTRALIA U20 1 1 0 0 36 12 24 5 2 1 5
IRELAND U20 1 1 0 0 42 26 16 6 3 1 5
FRANCE U20 1 1 0 0 36 20 16 5 2 1 5
WALES U20 1 1 0 0 30 25 5 2 3 0 4
ARGENTINA U20 1 0 0 1 25 30 -5 3 2 1 1
ENGLAND U20 1 0 0 1 26 42 -16 3 6 0 0
FIJI U20 1 0 0 1 20 36 -16 2 5 0 0
SCOTLAND U20 1 0 0 1 19 43 -24 3 6 0 0
ITALY U20 1 0 0 1 12 36 -24 2 5 0 0
GEORGIA U20 1 0 0 1 13 45 -32 1 7 0 0


This match is also uniquely important as it brings together the current U20 Oceania Champions and the Six Nations Champions and the result of this game will allow a lot of the teams to re-calibrate thier chances in this competition. 

Australia won the Oceania competition after beating Japan (62 – 14), Fiji (16 – 0) and New Zealand (24 – 0). Ireland completed the Six Nations Grand Slam with wins over France, England, Wales, Scotland and Italy. 

What happened last time they met?

The teams have only met twice in this competition and both times were in 2013, the only time they were in the same pool.

Ireland won the Pool match 19 – 15. However, both teams lost to New Zealand in the pool stages and both went through to the 5th place play offs.

They lost their first knock out games, Australia to Argentina and Ireland to France, and Australia went on to win their 7th place play off 28 – 17. 

Will that match have any effect on this one? 

Of course not, a year is a long time at this level and their last meeting was six years ago.  As a matter of interest, their last meetings featured, then Ulster players, Conor Joyce, Chris Farrell and Rory Scholes. David  Shanahan was also in the squad though he was with Leinster at the time. 

The teams for this meeting are as follows (current Ulster players in bold) : 

AUSTRALIA U20   IRELAND U20
Isaac Lucas (Sunnybank) 15 Rob Russell (Dublin University)
Triston Reilly (Randwick) 14 Angus Kernohan (QUB)
Semisi Tupou (Rebels) 13 Liam Turner (Dublin University)
Noah Lolesio (Tuggeranong) 12 Stewart Moore (Malone)
Mark Nawaqanitawase (Eastwood) 11 Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution)
Will Harrison (Randwick) 10 Jake Flannery (Cork Constitution)
Michael McDonald (Palmyra) 9 Craig Casey (Shannon)
Angus Bell (Sydney University) 1 Josh Wycherley (Young Munster)
Lachlan Lonergan (Vikings) 2 Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians)
Josh Nasser (University of Queensland) 3 Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University)
Michael Wood (Brothers) 4 Charlie Ryan (Capt.) (UCD)
Trevor Hosea (Melbourne Harlequins) 5 Ryan Baird (Trinity College)
Harry Wilson (Brothers) 6 David McCann (Banbridge)
Fraser McReight (C) (Brothers) 7 Ronan Watters (St Mary’s College)
Will Harris (Eastern Suburbs) 8 John Hodnett (UCC)
     
Joseph Cotton (Wests) 16 John McKee (Old Belvedere)
Bo Abra (Eastern Suburbs) 17 Michael Milne (UCD)
Darcy Breen (Sydney University) 18 Charlie Ward (Clontarf)
Rhys Van Nek 19 Declan Adamson (Clontarf)
Esei Haangana (Rebels) 20 Niall Murray (Connacht)
Nick Frost (Brumbies) 21  
Carlo Tizzano (Western Force) 22 Ciaran Booth (Sale Sharks)
Patrick Tafa (Norths) 23 Thomas Ahern (Shannon)
Henry Robertson (Sydney University) 24 Colm Reilly (Buccaneers)
Ben Donaldson (Randwick) 25 Ben Healy (Garryowen)
Kye Oates (University of Queensland) 26 Cormac Foley (St Mary’s College)
Joey Walton (Randwick) 27  
Sione Tui (Melbourne) 28  


Since 2013 Australia have finished in either 5th or 6th place in the Championships. Ireland have had more disordered campaigns, finishing as high as 2nd in 2016 and as low as 11th in 2018.

What are the Irish Players Stats?

The updated stats for the Irish players at this level are shown below. In the case of Angus Kernohan, Dylan Tierney-Martin and Charlie Ryan the stats include U20 Six Nations and Championship stats from 2018. 

NO. PLAYER CLUB PROVINCE CAP MIN TRY PTS
15 Rob Russell Dublin University Leinster 5 65 0 0
14 Angus Kernohan Queen’s University Ulster 9 502 0 0
13 Liam Turner Dublin University Leinster 6 480 0 0
12 Stewart Moore Malone Ulster 1 49 1 5
11 Jonathan Wren Cork Constitution Munster 6 480 2 10
10 Jake Flannery Shannon Munster 6 457 1 11
9 Craig Casey Shannon Munster 4 296 2 10
1 Josh Wycherley Young Munster Munster 6 398 2 10
2 Dylan Tierney-Martin Corinthians Connacht 7 416 5 25
3 Tom Clarkson Dublin University Leinster 6 467 1 5
4 Charlie Ryan UCD Leinster 11 571 0 0
5 Ryan Baird Dublin University Leinster 3 132 0 0
6 David McCann Banbridge Ulster 4 100 2 10
7 Ronan Watters St Mary’s College Leinster 2 64 0 0
8 John Hodnett UCD Munster 6 470 2 10
               
16 John McKee Old Belvedere Leinster 4 55 0 0
17 Michael Milne UCD Leinster 4 39 0 0
18 Charlie Ward Clontarf Leinster 1 2 0 0
19 Declan Adamson Clontarf Leinster 1 7 0 0
20 Niall Murray Buccaneers Connacht 6 332 0 0
22 Ciaran Booth Sale Sharks IQ Rugby 1 7 0 0
23 Thomas Ahern* Shannon Munster 0 0 0 0
24 Colm Reilly Buccaneers Connacht 2 30 1 5
25 Ben Healy Garryowen Munster 4 181 1 35
26 Cormac Foley St Mary’s College Leinster 5 154 1 5

*Uncapped at this level

Where are the key areas?

This one is going to be all about defense. Ireland scored 6 tries against England and Australia banged in 5 tries against Italy. 

The bulk of Ireland’s efforts were from close in with the ball not going past the half backs that often in attack. Australia were slightly more expensive, but, the bulk of their tries also came from the forwards.

However, I think it would be fair to say, Australia are more influenced by the basketball style of play of Super Rugby and Ireland are more inclined to keep it tight though, pleasingly, both teams can switch styles fairly seamlessly and both have few weaknesses. 

Australia niled New Zealand U20 in their Oceania meeting in May and Ireland have turned over the heavyweight English side twice this season so they are both good sides at the top of their games.

The key area in this one will be in their heads. 

Who is going to win?

This has the potential to be the game of the tournament and whoever wins this one will be favourites to go on and win the tournament. (For a couple of days anyway – things can change dramatically over a short period of time in this competition.)

However, Ireland have had the opportunity to slug out the wins more often against strong teams like England and France and I feel this experience gives them a slight advantage at this stage of the tournament. 

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