Ireland youngsters look to avoid the drop with a win over Samoa
On the face of it, three defeats on the bounce doesn't look great at all, but a small bit of perspective is needed as the Ireland U-20s look for a win over Samoa today that would steer them away from being relegated from next year's Junior World Cup.
Last week's thumping defeat to a seriously impressive New Zealand side has further dampened the mood surrounding the squad, and the five injuries that resulted from that game has brought the body count to 17.
A handful of players who started the Six Nations campaign remain as Peter Malone has been forced to dig deep into the talent pool. Like Ireland, the Samoans lost all three of their pool games and, while they were on the end of two drubbings by England and Wales, they did push Australia close.
"Things didn't go to plan in the pool stages, but now it's about digging deep and looking to get a result," Malone said. "They caused problems throughout their pool and we know they're going to be very physical."
Regardless of this morning's result, Ireland will face one final clash on Sunday.
IRELAND U-20: A Tynan; M Silvester, G Mullin, C Frawley, C Nash; C Dean, J Stafford; J Duggan, R Kelleher, P Cooper; F Wycherley, O Dowling; G Coombes, P Boyle (capt), C Doris. Reps: A Moloney, J Conway, C Connolly, J Regan, J Foley, J Stewart, D McCarthy, M Keane.
• Ulster will play a pre-season friendly against Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens on August 25.
The Premiership side, who visited Kingspan Stadium for a similar fixture last season, are the second English side Ulster will face in preparation for the new campaign after it was confirmed Wasps would visit Belfast on August 17.