Nigel Carolan calls on his troops to rediscover attacking spark

Nigel Carolan has asked his Irish U20 side to finish their campaign positively in Netherdale tonight by returning to the full-throttle game which has been suffocated by two defeats in a row.

Nigel Carolan calls on his troops to rediscover attacking spark

Ireland kicked off the tournament scoring 11 tries in wins over Italy and France, but their scoring touch has deserted them in the losses to England and Wales with just one try scored in 160 minutes.

Tonight they face Scotland in the Borders region aiming to lay down a marker ahead of the sides’ Junior World Championship campaign in June.

“There’s been a bit of soul-searching to be done from within,” said Irish head coach Carolan, referring to last Friday’s 19-12 loss to Wales.

“For us it’s been all about positivity in training this week. It’s about trying to restore that element that we brought into the campaign, that open play, that ability to create opportunities and take them which we started with.

“We need to restore that pride that we had in our game that we had at the start of the campaign.”

Carolan highlighted the intensity that he expects Scotland to bring in defence, but the hosts have the second-worst record in the U20 Six Nations when it comes to tries conceded.

The Ireland coach has shuffled his deck, making three changes to the forwards selected to face Wales last week.

Conan O’Donnell comes into the front row, Alex Thompson now partners up with David O’Connor in the second row while Josh Murphy is named at blindside flanker.

The back-line boasts an impressive array of attacking talent, including the UCD trio of out-half Ross Byrne, outside centre Garry Ringrose and full-back Billy Dardis and much will be expected of them against a team which has shipped 15 tries so far.

Despite holding Italy to no score in round three the Scots did concede five at home to Wales and managed to kick themselves to a 36-34 win in round two. That has set the platform for Scotland to go unbeaten at home and that is the ambition for former Glasgow Warriors and current U20 coach Sean Lineen.

“We know it’s going to be tough, but we’re looking forward to what will be a fierce encounter against the Irish,” said Lineen, who made six changes from the side which lost away to England last weekend.

“Hopefully we get a good crowd down to Netherdale, to get behind the boys and lift them to a third home victory for the season.”

For Ireland, however, this has been a voyage of discovery with Carolan piloting the U20s for the first time since succeeding Mike Ruddock as coach. By the end of tonight’s game he hopes all 30 players selected for the tournament will have seen game action and this squad should see only a few changes ahead of the JWC competition in Italy where Ireland will also face New Zealand in the pool stages.

SCOTLAND: R Howarth; B Robbins, T Galbraith, P Kelly, A Coombes; R Huthchinson, G Horne; M McCallum, S James, Z Fagerson; S Cummings, L Carmichael; N Irvine, A Miller, M Bradbury (capt).

Replacements: R Graham, D Elkington, G Robertson, A Davidson, R Knott, B Vellacott, A Russell, R Galloway.

IRELAND: B Dardis; C Gaffney, G Ringrose, S Arnold, S Fitzgerald; R Byrne, N McCarthy (capt); J Loughman, Z McCall, C O’Donnell; D O’Connor, A Thompson; J Murphy, N Timoney, L Dow.

Replacements: A McBurney, M Lagan, O Heffernan, J Dawn, S McVeigh, C Young, J Carbery, J Stockdale.

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