herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Chance for U20s if they can raise game in France

ONE game down. One win in the back pocket. Ireland coach Mike Ruddock must have been content to brush aside Wales in Dubarry Park last Friday.

One note of caution! The Welsh looked disinterested at best and utterly devoid of skill, ingenuity or will at worst. They simply could not hold onto the ball.

In truth, Ireland were not much better. Sure, their forwards dominated the ball. Their back five were a menace. Lock Iain Henderson got through a mountain of work. The back row is a well-balanced, speedy unit.

Ireland will have to improve out of all recognition to dismantle a French unknown quantity whose match against Italy was postponed last week.

However, Ruddock has improved his team by promoting Ulster centre Chris Farrell and Leinster scrum-half Luke McGrath (pictured) to start in place of Foster Horan and Kieran Marmion.

Right wing Barry Daly has been ruled out with a broken thumb. Conor Finn comes in for his first cap beside full-back Shane Layden, his Buccaneers and former Cistercian College Roscrea team-mate.

The French do not have one player back from the side or replacements which wiped out Ireland 38-13 in Athlone last season. This is a source of encouragement.

Verdict: Ireland

France: D Domvo; J Zebango, J Danty, I Perraux, Y Artru; C Otazo, T Ecochard (capt); K Château, J Kazubek, K Galletier, P Jedresiak, B Chalureau, F Fresia, R Carbou, J Poirot.

Ireland: S Layden; C Finn, F Horan, JJ Hanrahan, S Coghlan-Murray; P Jackson (capt), K Marmion; K McCall, N Scannell, P Reilly, D Qualter, I Henderson, C Gilsenan, A Conneely, J Conan.

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