Monday 19 March 2018

Ruddock's Grand ambition looks like a big ask

England v Ireland, Adams Park, Tonight (KO 8.05) Live Sky Sports 2

THE Ireland U20s are on the brink of their first Grand Slam since 2007. If they are to do it, they will have to do it the hardest way - away to England.

"The strength of this team has been the team effort. Our mantra has been to outwork teams. That is what we've done. That is our trademark. That is what we'll stand or fall by," said Ireland coach Mike Ruddock.

The French provided the template for Ireland to scupper a powerful England side fielding a host of players with Premiership experience with their 12-8 defeat of the English last Saturday. "Physicality is going to be huge. That is the bottom line for us. It we're soft, fall off tackles, then this is not going to happen. We're not going to get anywhere near it," issued Ruddock.

"If we are physical, if we match the physicality we showed when we went to France, we've got a good chance," he said.

In fact, the Irish held out against all the odds in France, staying intact on their own line in the face of bigger young men with the backing of a large, vocal home support.

"It was the making of this Ireland unit.

"That brings a team together like nothing else. It creates a special bond. Those guys went shoulder-to-shoulder in a tough place and came out with a result.

"They have drawn on that. It has galvanised them hugely. That certainly gives us the confidence that we can go to England, as tough as it is going to be, stand toe-to-toe with them and give a good account of ourselves."

Verdict: England

England: A Watson; M Yards, W Addison, R Mills, Charlie Walker; T Heathcote, D Robson; A Hepburn, K Britton, K Sinckler, T Price, D Barrow, M Kvesic, Chris Walker (capt), J Clifford.

Ireland: S Layden; C Finn, C Farrell, JJ Hanrahan, F Horan; P Jackson (capt), L McGrath; D Merrey, N Scannell, K McCall, I Henderson, D Qualter, C Gilsenan, A Conneely, J Conan.

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