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Thursday 14 December 2017

Carolan's colts must stand up to English

Nigel Carolan
Nigel Carolan

As always, this will be a matter of Ireland standing up to the blunt force trauma implemented by England at Donnybrook tonight (KO 7.25, RTE2).

This is not to downplay the increasing tendency of the English to opt for an expansive approach. Their first day defeat to Wales was at least on a par with that produced by Ireland and France.

It is clear this is an above average year at this grade, Scotland having the audacity to turn over Wales in round two to leave Ireland as the only country with two wins out of two.

Coach Nigel Carolan has access to a multi-talented back division with half-backs Nick McCarthy, the captain, and Ross Byrne, full-back Billy Dardis and centre Garry Ringrose all back from last year.

The English will embrace the speed on offer off the 3G surface as they make six changes bringing back in U20 World Cup winners Aaron Morris and Nick Tompkins as two of the half-dozen changes.

Ireland: B Dardis; J Owens, G Ringrose, S Arnold, S Fitzgerald; R Byrne, N McCarthy (capt); J Loughman, Z McCall, O Heffernan, D O'Connor, A Thompson, J Murphy, R Moloney, L Dow.

England: A Morris; G Perkins, J Marchant, N Tompkins, H Packman; O Bryant, J Mitchell; E Genge, J Walker, C Parker, K Threadwell, C Ewels (capt), J Batley, W Owen, J Chisholm.

Verdict: Ireland

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