Buoyant U20s won't take Scots for granted

Ireland’s Harry Byrne practising his goal-kicking prior to last Friday night’s U20 Six Nations Championship victory over England at Musgrave Park. Picture: Inpho/Laszlo Geczo

In spite of the enormity of their opening round victory over England, defence coach Kieran Campbell has insisted the Ireland U20s are keeping their feet firmly on the ground.

They are expected to keep their winning run going when they face Scotland at Netherdale tonight (kick-off 7.35pm) and the former Ulster scrum-half expects the same kind of motivation that powered them past the English in Musgrave Park.

“Listening to the guys on the pitch, there’s been no complacency. There’s a real drive to perform again. I think some of the guys are really talking about ‘you shouldn’t need any more motivation than playing against another national team’,” Campbell said.

“The Scottish will always be tough regardless of where we play them or what the atmosphere is like. I think that’s the good thing about this group as well. 

"They seem to have a genuine drive to do really, really well. Drive on and not be getting complacent or not respecting the environment we’re coming into.”

In contrast to the buoyant mood in the Ireland camp last Friday, Scotland were on the receiving end of a demoralising home defeat to Italy (22-32). 

Whilst acknowledging the potential banana skin that awaits them, Campbell sees the Scottish set-piece as an area they can target.

“I think Scotland are evolving their style, it is quite similar to what Gregor Townsend seems to be running with the seniors. When they got into phase play they were very dangerous, very fluid. 

"That is something where we are going to have to be right on the button. You talk about defence, we will have to be right on our mettle because their phase play is extremely strong,” Campbell explained.

“One area of the game where they struggled a little bit was set-piece. That is an area we have examined. Their strength is what they did around phase play; I thought they were strong there, produced some really nice periods of play, continuity. There may be opportunities to go after them there.”

Unsurprisingly, head coach Noel McNamara has kept changes at a minimum. 

Indeed, the one alteration to the starting 15 is enforced — Cormac Foley replacing knee victim Craig Casey at scrum-half. 

He will form a new partnership with Harry Byrne on a team that features no fewer than five Munster underage prodigies.

Uncapped duo Luke Masters (Shannon) and Colm Reilly have been included amongst the replacements.

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