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.
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|