Ireland U20s assistant coach Kieran Campbell expects his side to be more ruthless in tonight’s Six Nations second round clash with Wales at Musgrave Park (kick-off 7.15pm).
While a six-try haul in last week’s 38-26 triumph over Scotland suggested the defending champions were at their attacking best, Campbell is adamant they can scale even greater heights.
“That’s the little bit of cohesion. You’ve a team that’s in their second game [including a training match with Munster]. You’d expect that. This week with that cohesion built up and people are a bit more understanding of how each other play, we’ll be more ruthless in there and take opportunities when they’re presented,” the former Ulster and Connacht scrum-half said.
“On the weekend, it was probably a bit frustrating for the boys. They didn’t always finish that territorial dominance. It’s a nice thing to be talking about. Little issues at this point after a solid win and five points under your belt, as opposed to huge under-performance and a loss. It’s a nice place to be, keeps the complacency away.”
Ireland will be coming face-to-face with a Welsh outfit that suffered a surprise 17-7 home defeat at the hands of Italy seven days ago. Though the holders will undoubtedly be favourites to prevail in Cork, Campbell insists this group aren’t taking anything for granted.
We’re in a pretty good spot. It takes time to get cohesion too with people coming in — if you’re dropping guys in and out. On top of that, there’s no doubt they’ll bring a different challenge than Scotland.
"From watching them, there’ll be a level of physicality that’s quite new to our boys. It’s one we’ll have to meet fairly head on,” Campbell added.
As anticipated, Ireland head coach Noel McNamara has kept faith with the majority of the team that overcame Scotland in the opening round. With injury ruling Ethan McIlroy out of contention his fellow Ulster man, Ben Moxham, is selected on the right-wing for his U20s international debut.
Leinster’s Marcus Hannan has also been added to the Irish front-row in place of Charlie Ward — a surviving member of last year’s Grand Slam-winning squad. Elsewhere, Bandon native Jack Crowley maintains his potent half-back partnership with Lewis Finlay while Hayden Hyde and Dan Kelly will once again combine in midfield.
Shannon clubman Thomas Ahern has been selected alongside Brian Deeny in the second row and Banbridge’s David McCann once again captains the team at No 8. After missing out on last Friday’s matchday 23, Leinster duo Harry Noonan and Cian Pendergast have been elevated to Ireland’s replacements bench.
Despite the disappointment of their reversal to the Azzurri in Colwyn Bay, there are just three changes to Wales’ line-up for this encounter. Following 12 consecutive appearances as a replacement, Dragons hooker Will Griffiths is finally handed his first start at this grade in place of Dom Booth.
Their head coach, Gareth Williams, admits there are several areas of improvement required if they are to spoil the Irish party by the Leeside.
“There are some areas we have worked hard to tighten up on this week, and challenged ourselves to execute better to keep Ireland under pressure. Which was something we didn’t do to Italy, although I thought Italy were excellent in their performance,” Williams stressed.
“We have a clear understanding of our responsibility for development and defeats like last week can act as effective learning experiences. But we’re a competitive and proud group, and want to get back to success against opposition we have the utmost respect for.”
O McNulty (Corinthians/Connacht); B Moxham (Ballymena/Ulster), D Kelly (IQ Rugby), H Hyde (Ballynahinch/Ulster), A Smith (Clontarf/Leinster); J Crowley (Cork Constitution/Munster), L Finlay (Malone/Ulster); M Hannan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), T Stewart (Belfast Royal Academy / Ballynahinch/Ulster), T Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster); T Ahern (Shannon/Munster), B Deeny (Clontarf/Leinster); S O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), M Hernan (Lansdowne/Leinster), D McCann (Banbridge/Ulster).
J McKee (Old Belvedere/Leinster), H Noonan (Old Wesley/Leinster), C Ward (Clontarf/Leinster), J McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster), C Prendergast (UCD/Leinster), B Murphy (Clontarf FC/Leinster), T Corkery (Lansdowne/Leinster), L Faria (Dublin University FC/Leinster).
I Lloyd (Bristol Bears); D John (Millfield School), O Knott (Scarlets), A Owen (Dragons), E Rosser (Dragons); S Costelow (Leicester Tigers), D Buckland (Dragons); Bevacqua (Cardiff Blues), W Griffiths (Dragons), B Warren (Cardiff Blues); J Price (Scarlets), B Carter (Dragons); I Davies (Cardiff Blues), J Morgan (Scarlets), M Strong (Ospreys).
D Booth (Scarlets), C Williams (Scarlets), A Griffin (Bath Rugby), J Fender (Ospreys), G Bradley (Cardiff Blues), E Bevan (Cardiff Met), B Roderick (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys).