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Sunday 25 September 2016

Carolan's colts can test mighty All Blacks

Nigel Carolan
Nigel Carolan

The Irish men from the U20s to their senior brethren, have never beaten New Zealand at international rugby

This is a measure of the pressure from previous failures on Ireland and on The Baby Blacks.

Their coach Scott Robertson won't want to be their fall guy, especially after blitzing Georgia 55-0 on Tuesday.

Irish coach Nigel Carolan has been forced to make one change as tight-head Ben Betts comes in for the injured Conor Kenny ahead of what has been the litmus test at this level against the five-time winners.

The Irish trade on their refusal to bow when they bend.

The manner of their fightback from a 17-0 deficit against Wales to overcome the Grand Slam winners 26-25 had to be seen to be fully appreciated.

They turned on the substance, rather than the style, to gradually gain the upper-hand up front. Ireland will need more of the same, and more, to humble the favourites.

Ireland: J Stockdale (Ulster); M Byrne (Leinster), S Daly (Munster), C O'Brien, H Keenan (both Leinster); B Johnston (Munster), S Kerins (Connacht); A Porter (Leinster), A McBurney (Ulster), B Betts (Munster), C Gallagher (Connacht), J Ryan, G Jones, D Aspil, M Deegan (all Leinster).

New Zealand: J Trainor; S Stevenson, P Tomkinson, J Barrett, M Tuitama; S Perofeta, S Nock; A Johnstone L Apisai (capt), S Kautai, Q Strange, I Walker-Leawere, L Jacobson, M Jacobson, M Mikaele-Tu'u.

Verdict: New Zealand

Ireland u20 v New Zealand u20 (today 1.30, live TG4/sky sports 3)

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