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Dublin: 5°C Friday 27 November 2020

5 things Ireland U20s must do to beat England in tomorrow's JWC semi-final

Ireland are in the final four of the Junior World Championship for the first time; can they go one better?

Ireland face England in the semi-finals of the Junior World Championship at QBE Stadium in Auckland tomorrow morning. Kick-off is at 6.05am.

1. Get the line-out right

MIKE RUDDOCK’S SIDE  enjoyed a near-perfect afternoon of scrummaging against Fiji, but throughout the tournament the secondary set-piece has not matched that standard.

Against a heavier pack, the line-out is one area where a team can make hay; either with clever movement pre-jump, good mauling technique after the catch or simply by tying up numbers before moving the ball away.

Too often in this tournament, the mechanism of the lift or throw has malfunctioned when Ireland had worked themselves into a striking position within the 22. That kind of position can’t be tossed aside against the reigning champions.

2. Keep Itoje quiet

Every good team at a Junior World Championships has a forward who looks like they have no business playing at under 20 level. For England this year, Saracens lock Maro Itoje is the man running the show from the heart of the pack.

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Rugby Union - Aviva Premiership - Leicester Tigers v Saracens - Welford Road Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

This point ties in with the wider element of the line-out, but if Ross Molony and Peadar Timmins can limit Itoje’s impact then it will be a massive fillip for the green pack.

The Saracens’ forward’s dynamic physique means he plays almost like a flanker, so managing his ability will be a task shared among the Irish team.

3. Believe, take every chance

The point above must be counter-balanced with Ireland focusing on their own game.

There was a brief sense of white-line fever in the first half against Fiji, but Ireland’s own processes and systems have taken them this far. Now is the time to trust in them rather than obsess over what the opposition will do.

We’ve also seen Irish sides at all levels attempt to force early try-scoring opportunities rather than take an easy three points on offer. When Irish sides are confident, they keep the scoreboard ticking.

4. Put Taggart and O’Donoghue in position to carry

Captain Jack O’Donoghue has scarcely had a chance to rest this past week, but he will have to have a big game to get Ireland over the line and into the final.

Frank Taggart Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

The first line he’ll be concerned about though is the gainline. Putting England on the back foot is a must if they are to be beaten. If O’Donoghue and the powerful openside Frankie Taggart can offer Nick McCarthy viable carrying options and recycle the ball quickly, then that just might be what the Irish pack delivers.

5. Lay a platform for Byrne and Ringrose to wreak havoc

Ross Byrne has marked himself out as a superbly skillful out-half in this tournament and his performance against Wales showed he has the ability to conduct a game and create plenty of chances for his side.

Garry Ringrose Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

While Cian Kelleher has nabbed the tries, Garry Ringrose has (for us) been the stand-out back for Ireland in this tournament, showing an ability to pass excellently in contact, beat defenders with his footwork and also make his presence felt at ruck time.

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TheScore Team

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