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Wednesday 17 October 2018

Ireland now looking for first win in World Cup

Noel McNamara
Noel McNamara

This is the doomsday scenario the Ireland U-20s must have dreaded against a fired-up Georgia in Narbonne this evening (KO 5.30 Irish time, EirSport 2).

They venture into their last Pool match with nothing more than two losses and one bonus-point to their name, as they have been rolled over by hosts France (26-24) and South Africa (30-17).

Sadly, they have not moved on from the Six Nations in terms of giving away unacceptable points in their first two matches.

They were guilty of going to sleep in defence in both matches, with charge-downs leading to early tries and tap penalties causing mayhem.

However, coach Noel McNamara was dealt a cruel hand with injuries before the tournament and even just before the first game.

The Irish now have to overcome the powerful Georgians to make it to the 5th-8th place play-offs. Otherwise, they will have to gather some semblance of motivation for the 9th-12th place shake-up.

It will be no cakewalk against Georgia, who have shown impressive form in running South Africa (33-27) and France (24-12) close.

They are the coming force in European rugby and could well challenge Italy in the years to come for the right to compete in the Six Nations.

Ireland are not alone in chasing the 5th-8th place play-off either, as the Georgians have accrued a losing bonus-point against South Africa.

The key to neutralising the Eastern Europeans is to break-even with their gargantuan and ultra-aggressive forward pack, as well as controlling the influence of razor-sharp scrum-half Gela Aprasidze, their 'little general'.

Ireland: P Sylvester (Munster); P Sullivan, T O'Brien (both Leinster), J Hume (Ulster), S O'Brien; C Dean; H O'Sullivan; J Duggan (all Leinster), D Barron (Munster), J Aungier (Leinster), M Dalton (Ulster), J Dunne (Leinster), A Hall (Ulster), J Daly (Munster), C Doris (Leinster, capt).

Replacements: D Sheehan (Leinster), B O'Connor (Munster), J Wojtkowicz (Connacht), C Daly (Leinster), M Agnew; J Stewart (both Ulster), H Byrne (Leinster), J McCarthy (Munster).

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