Óisín Dowling: We can deliver in Donnybrook

Leinster lock Óisín Dowling is hoping to draw on home comforts tomorrow night, as the Ireland U20s welcome their French counterparts to Donnybrook Stadium for a Six Nations Championship encounter (8pm kick-off).

Nigel Carolan’s men (second behind world champions England in the standings) will be playing in the south Dublin venue for the first time since last March’s win over the Scotland, and Dowling believes their style of play will suit Donnybrook’s synthetic 4G surface.

“I think so. It definitely suits the players we have, the quick backs we have. If we can get go-forward ball from the forwards we can put it out wide and score a few good tries,” Dowling remarked.

With the likes of Jordan Larmour, Ciarán Frawley, and returning Munster out-half Bill Johnston in their back line, there is scope for Ireland to replicate their 37-20 win against the French in the 2015 Championship.

However, Dowling feels their one-dimensional approach has kept the backs on the periphery of their opening two games, and he acknowledges they need to develop a better shape to their play if they are to remain in contention for top honours.

“We’re only playing a very forward-orientated game, and not getting much ball to our backs and stuff like that. Not using the moves we have. We haven’t really been doing them. We’ve kind of been sticking with one- dimensional rugby.

“We were just kind of doing things that before the game [against Italy last Friday week] we didn’t even talk about. It wasn’t what we wanted to do. So our focus really for playing against France is to play the way we want to. Move their big pack around and play with more of the shape.”

Despite coming away with narrow wins against Scotland and Italy in the opening two rounds, statistically Ireland came off second best in both the lineout and in their scrum.

As a result, Dowling accepts they were doing extremely well to come out on the right side of the result, but he stressed they are aiming to improve on their set-piece ahead of France’s visit to Dublin.

“In international rugby, you really can’t afford to make too many mistakes, or else the other team will just capitalise on it straight away.

“We were going through the stats and with the mistakes we made, what we got from our lineout and scrum, we probably shouldn’t have won those two games.

“We actually did well to win both of those, so the main thing we’re actually trying to do against France is to get good, clean ball, a good set-piece and focus on them,” Dowling added.

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