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Moore ruled out as Ireland face uphill battle to reach knockouts

 

Cut short: Injury has forced Stewart Moore home early
Cut short: Injury has forced Stewart Moore home early
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster centre Stewart Moore, one of the stars of the Under-20 World Championships so far, has been forced to return home ahead of Ireland's concluding pool fixture against Italy this afternoon (2.30pm).

The Malone man sustained a shoulder injury against Australia, ending his tournament after two tries in two games.

His score in the 45-17 defeat to the Junior Wallabies will be a highlight but it remains a bitter pill to swallow for a promising player who missed out on the Six Nations due to concussion.

There's better news for his provincial team-mate Azur Allison, however, who returns to the No.8 jersey after missing out against the Wallabies, joining fellow Ulsterman David McCann in the back-row, while Angus Kernohan retains his starting position on the wing.

With Australia having already won Pool B, Ireland face an uphill battle to make the semi-finals as the best runner-up with their poor points difference set to work against them.

Ireland require a bonus-point win against the Italians, and more than a 60-point swing to be produced by a combination of their would-be victory and this evening's game between New Zealand and South Africa (7.30pm), where the losing side would also need to bank zero match points of any kind in order for Ireland to stand any chance of progression.

To complicate matters further, there remains an additional requirement for France to beat hosts Argentina too.

Still, head coach Noel McNamara has been largely pleased by what he has seen out in Argentina from his Grand Slam winners.

Having beaten England with a bonus-point and led Australia beyond the hour mark despite losing Ryan Baird to an early red card, there have been plenty of encouraging signs for a side showcasing talents like Moore, Craig Casey and John Hodnett, the latter of whom has also been ruled out through injury for the remainder of the tournament.

"I think we have to be proud of the efforts of the boys against a really quality opposition like Australia and under the circumstances that unfolded," said McNamara, who makes nine changes for his side's third game in nine days.

"To perform the way they performed, the quality of effort was absolutely first-class and the character on display was absolutely first-class.

"We are proud of the effort the players put in on Saturday against Australia given the circumstances, and the character they showed throughout the contest has to be commended. We have no doubt that they will dig deep again against the Italians."

Ireland have beaten Italy already this season, beating the Azzurri 34-14 in Rieti during their Six Nations Grand Slam.

"The Italians are and have been very competitive at this level," added McNamara. "That was in evidence again in their game on Saturday against England. When you look at the game, they'll have frustrations that they didn't get more out of it.

"Obviously they got a losing bonus point, but the feeling there would be that they should have won the game. They certainly had opportunities and chances in that second half to put England away. I've no doubt that they're going to come back on Wednesday morning and be absolutely up for the challenge."

IRELAND TEAM TO FACE ITALY: (15-9) J Flannery; A Kernohan, L Turner (c), C Foley, R Russell; B Healy, C Reilly; (1-8) J Wycherley, J McKee, M Milne; T Ahern, R Baird; D McCann, C Boothe, A Allison.

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