Damage limitation as Ireland face Scotland in playoff in Perpignan
Head coach Noel McNamara makes five changes as he chases championship place
Ireland U-20s head coach Noel McNamara with Paul O’Connell at the Stade Aimé-Giral in Perpignan in May, when Ireland were defeated by hosts France. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
It was very much damage limitation for head coach Noel McNamara, who has made five personnel changes to the Ireland Under-20 team to play Scotland in Tuesday’s 9th-12th place play-off in Perpignan (kick-off 3pm Irish time) in the World Rugby U-20 Championship.
While Ireland defeated Scotland 30-25 at Donnybrook during this year’s U-20 Six Nations, they go into the game after a disappointing run of results, losing in their three World Cup pool games to hosts France (26-24), South Africa (30-17) and Georgia (24-20).
Michael Silvester, a try scorer against South Africa, is returned to fullback and Harry Byrne, who scored 16 points during the campaign, comes back into the out-half position.
The re-jigged back-line pushes centres James Hume and Tommy O’Brien to the wings, with Sean O’Brien and Peter Sylvester pairing up in a new midfield combination.
Tighthead Joe Byrne, who made his Ireland U-20 debut off the bench against the French, comes in for his first start, joining Jordan Duggan and Diarmuid Barron.
Matthew Dalton and Jack Dunne are retained as the second row pairing, while Ulster duo Joe Dunleavy and Matthew Agnew resume alongside captain and Leinster backrow Caelan Doris.
The Irish team are chasing a win to secure their World Rugby U-20 Championship place for next season. The winners of the match, which will be broadcast live on eir Sport 2, will face either Georgia or Japan next Sunday.
IRELAND: Michael Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster); James Hume (Banbridge/Ulster), Seán O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster), Peter Sylvester (UCC/Munster), Tommy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster); Harry Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Hugh O’Sullivan (Clontarf/Leinster); Jordan Duggan (Naas/Leinster), Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen/Munster), Joe Byrne (Dublin University/Leinster); Matthew Dalton (Malone/Ulster), Jack Dunne (Dublin University/Leinster); Joe Dunleavy (Malone/Ulster), Matthew Agnew (Ballymena/Ulster), Caelan Doris (St Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt).
Replacements: Dan Sheehan (Dublin University/Leinster), Bryan O’Connor (UCC/Munster), Jakub Wojtkowicz (Sligo/Connacht), Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster), Jack Daly (Garryowen/Munster), Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster), Conor Dean (St Mary’s College/Leinster), Tom Roche (Lansdowne/Leinster).