Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Olding to lead the way as U20s look for home comforts

Stuart Olding will be a key player for Ireland U20s
Stuart Olding will be a key player for Ireland U20s

The situation is curiously similar to tomorrow's senior game, as both Ireland U20s and their French counterparts go in search of a result to help salvage their respective campaigns tonight at Dubarry Park (kick-off 7.35pm, live on RTE).

With Ireland and France four points behind current table-toppers Wales, and two adrift of England and Scotland, their championship hopes look pretty much gone so tonight is about seeing out the last two weekends of action on a high note.

In fairness to the French underage side, they have at least gone one better than Philippe Saint-Andre's squad in that they have won once but, still, neither side have been able to get enough of the right results.

The Irish, though, can take some solace from their narrow defeats to both Wales (17-15) and, most recently, and agonisingly, Scotland (21-20) while only Tom Daly's late conversion saw them get the better of England the last time they were at Dubarry Park.

Coach Mike Ruddock has been able to bolster his side by bringing back the Ulster pair of Stuart Olding, who is at full back again, and Conor Joyce who is in his more familiar position at flanker.

Belfast Harlequins player Olding's presence gives Ireland extra attacking options in a useful back three which includes fellow Quins player Rory Scholes and David Panter from Corinthians which if the pack – including Ballynahinch second row John Donnan and Malone prop Chris Taylor – produce a similar effort as the one seen against Scotland should provide a supply of quality ball as the Irish go in search of a fifth successive win at Dubarry Park.

Meanwhile, the unbeaten Ireland Women's team are also in action as they meet France tonight at Ashbourne (kick-off 7.30) with a fourth straight win on offer as thoughts now begin quietly turning towards the possibility of achieving a Grand Slam.

Elsewhere, the Ireland Club XV will be aiming to finish their two-game season unbeaten when they take on Scotland Clubs tonight in Ayr (kick-off 7.30).

The Ulster Ravens are also in action today when they meet Connacht Eagles in Galway (3.00).

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