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The teams have been announced for Friday nights U20 Six Nations fixture between Ireland and Wales which takes place at Irish Independent Park, kick off 19:15.

The match features first v last in terms of league standings, though how relative this is at the start of the campaign is a moot point.

TEAM PL W D L PF PA DIFF TF TA TB LB PTS
 Ireland 1 1 0 0 38 26 12 6 4 1 0 5
 England 1 1 0 0 29 24 5 4 2 1 0 5
 Italy 1 1 0 0 17 7 10 1 1 0 0 4
 France 1 0 0 1 24 29 -5 2 4 0 1 1
 Scotland 1 0 0 1 26 38 -12 4 6 1 0 1
 Wales 1 0 0 1 7 17 -10 1 1 0 0 0

If anything, the pressure to perform is probably piling on the Irish lads who will be looking to go seven games undefeated in this competition and it must be remembered that Wales outperformed Ireland in the intervening U20 Rugby World Championships, but six months is a long time at this level.

Wales head coach Gareth Williams has made three changes to the starting line-up as Bristol Bear’s Ioan Lloyd gets his first cap and loose-head prop Theo Bevacqua and hooker Will Griffiths come into the front row.

Ireland have made two changes to their starting line up with Larne man Ben Moxam (Ballymena) coming in for his first cap, replacing the injured Ethan McIlroy. Marcus Hanan (Old Belvedere) comes into the front row with Charlie Ward dropping to the bench. Ireland have made a further two changes on the bench with Harry Noonan (Old Wesley RFC) and Cian Prendergast (UCD) joining the squad.

With Moxam replacing McIlroy the Ulster contingent remains at five as Hayden Hyde (Ballynahinch), Lewis Finlay (Malone), Tom Stewart (Ballynahinch) and David McCann (Banbridge) all retain their places in the starting line up.

The Irish pack, and a virtuoso performance from out half  Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution), powered Ireland over the line last week against a rebuilding Scottish side, who slipped out of the U20 World Rugby Championships over the summer.

It’s difficult to gauge the standard year on year in this competition, and team performances can change dramatically game to game, but I suspect that Ireland will look to put in a more expansive game this time round, albeit against a Welsh side who were well beaten by good looking Italy last week.

It’s a game that Ireland will have targeted for a win and they should get it. With tougher tests against France and England, away, and Italy, at home, Ireland should be looking at this game as a chance to add to their attacking options.

Let’s see how it goes.

IRELAND U20 WALES U20
Oran McNulty 15 Ioan Lloyd
Ben Moxham 14 Daniel John
Dan Kelly 13 Osian Knott
Hayden Hyde 12 Aneurin Owen
Andrew Smith 11 Ewan Rosser
Jack Crowley 10 Sam Costelow
Lewis Finlay 9 Dafydd Buckland
Marcus Hanan 1 Theo Bevacqua
Tom Stewart 2 Will Griffiths
Tom Clarkson 3 Ben Warren
Thomas Ahern 4 Jac Price
Brian Deeny 5 Ben Carter
Sean O’Brien 6 Ioan Davies
Mark Hernan 7 Jac Morgan
David McCann 8 Morgan Strong
John McKee 16 Dom Booth
Harry Noonan 17 Callum Williams
Charlie Ward 18 Archie Griffin
Joe McCarthy 19 James Fender
Cian Prendergast 20 Gwilym Bradley
Ben Murphy 21 Ellis Bevan
Tim Corkery 22 Bradley Roderick
Luis Faria 23 Josh Thomas
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