Ireland aiming to finish on a high
JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP:THIS GROUP of underage Irish internationals have already bettered previous landmarks in the World Under-20 Junior Championship, irrespective of the outcome of today’s match. The previous highest finish for an Irish side was seventh, while this squad will finish fifth in victory or sixth in defeat.
In a remarkable season, Ireland have lost two matches, both to England; the first in chasing a Grand Slam in the Six Nations Championship and again during the pool phase of the tournament. They exacted revenge last time out in beating England 27-12.
In the last six months, Ireland have beaten Wales, France, Italy twice, Scotland, South Africa and England. Later on today the baby ’Boks will contest the final against defending champions New Zealand, led by incoming Munster coach Rob Penney and if the host country are successful, then Ireland would be the only side to beat them in the tournament.
Coach Mike Ruddock has announced an unchanged side from that which beat England.
Ireland will try and draw on the qualities that have seen them shred the formbook; an aggressive pressure defence and an ability to capitalise on their chances.
JJ Hanrahan has been deservedly nominated as one of three contenders for Under-20 World Player of the Year but several team-mates wouldn’t be far behind, notably Chris Farrell, Tadhg Furlong, captain Niall Scannell, Iain Henderson, Jordan Coghlan and Conor Gilsenan.
Ireland beat France 13-12 at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble during the Six Nations.
IRELAND: P Nelson (Ulster); B Daly (Leinster), S Olding (Ulster), C Farrell (Ulster), F Horan (Leinster); JJ Hanrahan (Munster), K Marmion (Connacht); D Merrey (Leinster), N Scannell (Munster, capt), T Furlong (Leinster); A O’Connor (Leinster), T Beirne (Leinster); I Henderson (Ulster), J Coghlan (Leinster), J Conan (Leinster). Replacements: J Rael (Munster), P Reilly (Leinster), J Cawley (Leinster), S Buckley (Munster), A Conneely (Connacht), L McGrath (Leinster), J Carty (Connacht), C Finn (Connacht).
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)