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2015-16 International Rugby U20 Ireland U20 Wales U20 World Rugby U20 Championship

2016 U20 WRC: Teams up for Ireland v Wales.

The teams have been announced for Ireland’s opening match of the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship against Wales which takes place at the Manchester City Academy Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Kick off 17:30 UK/Ire live on Sky Sports TG4 and S4C. 

The teams last met in the RBS Six Nations in February at Donnybrook with the Welsh winning that entertaining encounter 35 – 24. 

Changes since the Last Meeting

There are three changes to the Welsh starting XV and eight changes to Ireland starting lineup from the last time these two teams met, the most significant being the downgrading of Ulster’s Johnny McPhillips from the starting XV to the bench. 

I don’t know much about McPhillips’ replacement, Bill Johnston, as he was injured throughout the Six Nations, but, by all accounts, he’s a quality player. He did play for Munster against Ulster U20’s at Queen’s Arena in 2015 but didn’t stand out in that encounter!

Ireland’s other changes are primarily due to injury with Conor Kenny stepping up from the bench to start at tight-head, alongside regulars Adam McBurney and Andrew Porter, and Cillian Gallagher moves from the back row to the second row, alongside captain James Ryan. Greg Jones and David Aspil form the back row with regular Max Deegan, Aspil making his first appearance at this level. 

The impressive Stephen Kerins starts at scrum-half having shown the best form over the Six Nations with Hugo Keenan, Shane Daly and Matthew Byrne maintain their starting positions. Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale takes over the full-back berth in an attempt to get the powerful and pacey runner more involved and Conor O’Brien joins Daly in midfield having battled his way into the partnership for the last two games of the Six Nations. 

In the replacements Vincent O’Brien and Vakh Abdaladze form the front row replacements alongside Ben Betts and Sean O’Connor and Kelvin Brown cover second row and back row respectively as they did for much of the Six Nations.

Jimmy O’Brien joins McPhillips as backs replacement giving Ireland a couple of players who can mix things up if required and they are joined by Niall Saunders who made an impression when he came off the bench against Italy. 

The Teams In Full

WALES U20 IRELAND U20
COREY DOMACHOWSKI1ANDREW PORTER
DAFYDD HUGHES2ADAM MCBURNEY
DILLON LEWIS3CONOR KENNY
SHANE LEWIS-HUGHES4CILLIAN GALLAGHER
ADAM BEARD5JAMES RYAN
TOM PHILLIPS6GREG JONES
SHAUN EVANS7DAVID ASPIL
HARRISON KEDDIE8MAX DEEGAN
REUBEN MORGAN-WILLIAMS9STEPHEN KERINS
DAN JONES10BILL JOHNSTON
KEELAN GILES11HUGO KEENAN
HARRI MILLARD12CONOR O’BRIEN
JOE THOMAS13SHANE DALY
KIERAN WILLIAMS14MATTHEW BYRNE
RHUAN WILLIAMS15JACOB STOCKDALE
   
LIAM BELCHER16VINCENT O’BRIEN
RHYS FAWCETT17VAKH ABDALADZE
LEON BROWN18BEN BETTS
SEBASTIAN DAVIES19SEAN O’CONNOR
JOSHUA MACLEOD20KELVIN BROWN
DECLAN SMITH21NIALL SAUNDERS
JARROD EVANS22JOHNNY MCPHILLIPS
BILLY MCBRYDE23JIMMY O’BRIEN

 How Ireland will win

Wales completed a convincing Grand Slam in the Six Nations but it all could have ended before it began if Ireland hadn’t gifted them upwards of fifteen points in their meeting at Donnybrook. 

Their impressive pack and defensive line speed forced Ireland to cough up the points but if our lads can show just a touch more composure under pressure and if they can keep the big Welsh pack moving around the pitch they should have more than enough fire power in the back line to win this one, and it could conceivably a big one. 

The FRU Predicts: I suspect it’ll take both sides a while to settle in this one but I expect the Welsh to enjoy the better of the the opening exchanges. However, Ireland should finish the stronger and just edge past their opponents in the closing minutes. 

Players to Watch

Ireland’s James Ryan and Wales’ Harrison Keddie both impressed in the forward trenches last time out, whoever comes out on top in this skirmish should be on the winning team.  

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