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McNamara expecting tough battle as U20s aim to break winless run

 

By John Fallon

Ireland coach Noel McNamara is hopeful that his men can close out a first win in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship when they take on Georgia in Narbonne this evening.

His side had victory in their grasp against hosts France and South Africa but were unable to close the deal and now need to win to prevent a second season in a row where Ireland have not been victorious in a pool game.

Victory will push them into a position to compete for fifth to eighth place in the concluding rounds next week and give them a better seeding than this summer for next year's tournament.

"I have experience of some really tight ones. I even lost a kicking competition against them in an Under-18 tournament," said a cautious McNamara.

"Georgia have improved through the years. They are keen to prove that they deserve a place, even moving into the senior Six Nations. It's going to be a huge test again."

He has made six changes, with Peter Sylvester coming back into the side at full-back, while Peter O'Sullivan makes his first appearance. The other change to the backs sees Hugh O'Sullivan again swap the scrum-half role with Jonny Stewart.

Up front, Jack Daly will make his debut in a back-row which sees Aaron Hall, capped by Ulster last autumn, take over from provincial team-mate Joe Dunleavy. Matthew Dalton has recovered from a shoulder injury.

IRELAND: P Sylvester (Munster); P Sullivan (Leinster), T O'Brien (Leinster), J Hume (Ulster), S O'Brien (Leinster); C Dean (Leinster), H O'Sullivan (Leinster); J Duggan (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), K Wojtkowicz (Connacht), C Daly (Leinster), M Agnew (Ulster), J Stewart (Ulster), H Byrne (Leinster), J McCarthy (Munster).

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