Ireland U20s must look to get basics right against England

Nigel Carolan’s adventurous brand of rugby needs stable platform to work from

Greg Jones: makes his debut at number eight for the Under 20s

Greg Jones: makes his debut at number eight for the Under 20s

 

Ireland will look to strip back their patterns in an attempt to utilise the quality in the team as they search for a first victory in this season’s Under-20 Six Nations Championship.

Defeats against Wales and France in the opening two rounds thrust forward a number of issues common to both matches. Ireland’s attention to detail, the ability to execute accurately at setpieces and the breakdown and the general kicking game have not been good enough.

If they tidy up these areas, they should be more competitive. There have been flashes of what the team is capable of but without a strong foundation, winning will remain elusive.

There are five changes to the team beaten by France, most involving injuries, with players returning or ruled out. Greg Jones is handed a debut at number eight, while Young Munster tighthead Ben Betts will also win a first cap if introduced from the bench.

Five defeats

Nigel Carolan

The home team makes two changes from the 42-7 win over Italy, a contest in which hooker Jack Singleton crossed for four tries. England rely on a significant power base upfront that pretty much underpinned their success against the Italians.

England aren’t unbeatable, however, as Scotland demonstrated. Carolan lets his team play a heads-up brand of rugby but to be able to do that, the players must realise that adventurous rugby has to be complemented by a solid framework.

The synthetic pitch in Newcastle will make for a quicker game – Ireland play on a similar surface in Donnybrook – something that in theory will appeal to the Irish; they now have to put that into practice.

ENGLAND: M Malins (Saracens); G Perkins (Saracens), J Marchant (Harlequins), C Thacker (Leicester), O Thorley (Gloucester), M Protheroe (Gloucester), M Green (Yorkshire Carnegie); T West (Wasps), J Singleton (Worcester), W Stuart (Wasps), H Taylor (Worcester), G Nott (Sale), A White (Harlequins), S Smith (Worcester), C Chick (Newcastle, capt). Replacements: C Langdon (London Irish), J Pope (Sale), B Keast (Exeter), S South (Harlequins), J Willis (Wasps), J Shillcock (Worcester), J Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), P Odogwu (Leicester).

IRELAND: J Power (Leinster); H Keenan (Leinster), S Daly (Munster), J O’Brien (Leinster), C O’Brien (Leinster); J McPhillips (Ulster), S Kerins (Connacht); A Porter (Leinster), A McBurney (Ulster), C O’Donnell (Connacht); P Claffey (Connacht), J Ryan (Leinster, capt); C Gallagher (Connacht), W Connors (Leinster), G Jones (Leinster). Replacements: S Fenton (Munster), J Bollard (Leinster), B Betts (Munster), S O’Connor (Munster), K Brown (Munster), J Poland (Munster), B Connon (Newcastle Falcons), M Byrne (Leinster).

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