Friday, June 05, 2015

IRE v SCO #WorldRugbyU20s preview


Perhaps at Under 20 level the phrase “men v boys” can’t be used to describe a one-sided fixture (though looking at size of some from the so-called “Baby Blacks” I’m not so sure) but the fact that Scotland were outclassed by New Zealand in their opening fixture cannot be understated.  Even the one try they did manage shouldn’t have been allowed.

Whether or not this gives us any pointers how the Wolfpuppies will fare against our Celtic cousins at Calvisano on Saturday afternoon remains to be seen, especially as we lost to them recently enough to round off our Six Nations campaign.

For our own part we may consider ourselves fortunate to have come out with a victory against the young Argentinians - as you will probably be aware it took a last-gasp wonder-placekick from Thomás Quinlan to nick the four match points.  It’s not that we didn’t have adequate amounts of territory and possession, we just couldn’t turn it into tries.

However while young Quinlan’s composure was worthy of the plaudits, it would be unfair to talk down the contribution from starting outhalf Joey Carbery - despite the white line fever across the team he put in a decent shift and retains the number 10 jumper for this key second match.

We need to be honest here...a semifinal spot is going to be extremely hard to come by in this tournament for Ireland, for with the Wallabies and the Baby Boks together in pool B, the chances are that one of those is likely to finish second with at least 10 points, which means of course Ireland will have to at least do the same.  Getting a try bonus against the Scots and at least a losing one against NZ is a pretty tough ask, but no doubt Nigel Carolan will have them full of belief they can get it done.

Looking at the squad you’d be forgiven for thinking it was totally reliant on UCD for its talent.  And it’s true that the likes of Carbery, skipper Nick McCarthy, Garry Ringrose, Josh Murphy and Billy Dardis all play significant roles but they certainly couldn’t do without key players like Ulster’s Sam Arnold at centre and Munster’s Stephen Fitzgerald on the wing.

There’s no doubt that so far in 2015 they have put in some exhilarating performances as a team...still, question marks remain over their ability to keep that up throughout an entire tournament.  The hope is that the nature of their victory in game 1 will inspire them to greater things and while the Scots themselves will be keen to get back up off the mat, I’d still have to make the Wolfpuppies marginal favourites here.

The Scotland squad are under the guidance of Sean Lineen, who was Gregor Townsend’s predecessor at the Glasgow Warriors.  Despite the heavy loss in game one I have to say I admired their attitude particularly their skipper Jamie Ritchie, plus great things are expected of tighthead prop Zander Ferguson - he was talked up big time ahead of Glasgow’s match at the RDS at the end of March before succumbing to an early injury so we should get a decent look at him here.

Personally I don’t see us getting the try bonus point we’d require to help get out of this pool but I’d most certainly expect us to give it a damn good go.  I reckon Ireland can win this by 7-9 points; here’s to them proving me wrong and doing even better. JLP

#COYBIG #Wolfpuppies #WorldRugbyU20s

15. Billy Dardis (UCD/Leinster) 14. Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht) 13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 12. Sam Arnold (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 11. Stephen Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster) 10. Joey Carbery (UCD/Leinster) 9. Nick McCarthy (UCD/Leinster) (Capt)
1. Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 2. Sean McNulty (UCD/Leinster) 3. Oisin Heffernan (Terenure College/Leinster) 4. David O'Connor (St. Mary's College/Leinster) 5. Alex Thompson (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster) 6. Josh Murphy (UCD/Leinster) 7. Conor Oliver (St Mary's/ Leinster) 8. Lorcan Dow (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster)
Replacements 16. Zack McCall (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster) 17. Liam O'Connor (Cork Constitution /Munster)* 18. Conan O'Donnell (Sligo/NUIG/Connacht) 19. Jack Dwan (UCD/Leinster) 20. Nick Timoney (St. Mary's College/Leinster) 21. Charlie Rock (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 22. Tomás Quinlan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 23. Jacob Stockdale (Queen's University Belfast/Ulster)

15 Ruairi Howarth (Edinburgh Rugby/Gala) 14 Robbie Nairn (Harlequins)* 13 Tom Galbraith (Melrose) 12 Patrick Kelly (Le Parc) 11 Alec Coombes (London Scottish) 10 Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby)* 9 George Horne (Glasgow Hawks)
1 Murray McCallum (Aberdeen Grammar Rugby) 2 Sam James (Bedford Blues) 3 Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 4 Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks) 5 Lewis Carmichael (Melrose)* 6 Neil Irvine-Hess (Melrose) 7 Jamie Ritchie CAPTAIN (Edinburgh Rugby) 8 Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby)
16 Ross Graham (Hawick) 17 Dan Elkington (Watsonians) 18 Jack Owlett (Exeter University) 19 Andrew Davidson (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks) 20 Ruaridh Knott (Melrose) 21 Ben Vellacott (Gloucester/Hartpury College) 22 Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) 23 Richard Galloway (University of Birmingham)

Stadio San Michele, Calvisano, on Saturday 6 June (kick-off, 3.30pm GMT) – live on TG4 & BT Sport 2.

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