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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 24 January, 2019

Ireland focus on fast start in bid to get Six Nations back on track against Italy

Noel McNamara’s side are in action at Donnybrook this evening.

Ireland are ready for the physical test Italy will provide.
Ireland are ready for the physical test Italy will provide.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IT GOES WITHOUT saying, but Ireland U20s will be focusing on a quick, and purposeful, start when they look to get their Six Nations campaign back on track against Italy at Donnybrook this evening [KO 7.15pm, RTÉ2].

Noel McNamara’s young side were left to rue an error-strewn and disjointed opening half performance in Bordeaux last week but the response after the break left grounds for optimism moving forward.

Both the coach and players have spoken about using that second-half display as the benchmark for the rest of their championship campaign, and Ireland are expecting another big physical test later.

Italy gave as good as they got against defending champions England last week before falling away in the second half and they have six players back from last year, which can be a significant advantage at this level.

The Azzurri also won the most recent meeting of the two countries at U20 level, a 22-21 victory in the World Rugby U20 Championship last May.

McNamara has made four changes in personnel for the round two clash with two coming in the back row, where flankers Sean Masterson and Matthew Agnew come in to join Munster academy number eight Jack O’Sullivan.

The tight five remains unchanged, with props Jordan Duggan and Jack Aungier starting alongside hooker Ronan Kelleher and Cormac Daly and Jack Dunne named in the second row.

In the backs, Leinster academy scrum-half Hugh O’Sullivan comes into starting side, having won his first cap from the bench last week, and he will partner out-half Harry Byrne, the younger brother of Ross.

Noel McNamara before the game Ireland coach Noel McNamara. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Angus Curtis is promoted from the bench to start in midfield alongside captain Tommy O’Brien, while the back three remains unchanged, with Michael Silvester at fullback, and James McCarthy and Peter Sullivan on the wings.

“We played Italy during the summer with the Leinster 20s and we watched them play against England,” McNamara said.

“They ran a very experienced England side very close last week. It was a tight run affair over there so we will expect a serious test. They have six players returning from the pack last year and the team that beat Ireland in a Junior Rugby World Cup.

“Their starting 10 is back so they have a lot of experience. They will be coming back here in a very positive frame of mind and looking for a result. We need to go about our business in the right way or we will be in for a very difficult evening.”

Italy have made three changes, all of which are in the backline, for their trip to Dublin.

Alberto Rossi comes into the team at fullback, Damiano Mazza will line up at inside centre and Tommaso Coppo is the new left winger, with the pack unchanged from their strong display against England last weekend.


15. Michael Silvester (Dublin University/Leinster)
14. Peter Sullivan (Lansdowne FC/Leinster)
13. Tommy O’Brien (UCD RFC/Leinster) Captain
12. Angus Curtis (Queen’s University RFC/Ulster)
11. James McCarthy (UL Bohemian/Munster)
10. Harry Byrne (UCD RFC/Leinster)
9. Hugh O’Sullivan (Clontarf FC/Leinster)

1. Jordan Duggan (Naas/Leinster)
2. Eoghan Clarke (Wanderers FC/Leinster)
3. Jack Aungier (St. Mary’s College RFC/Leinster)
4. Cormac Daly (Clontarf FC/Leinster)
5. Jack Dunne (Dublin University FC/Leinster)
6. Sean Masterson (Corinthians RFC/Connacht)
7. Matthew Agnew (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)
8. Jack O’Sullivan (UCC RFC/Munster)


16. Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen FC/Munster)
17. James French (UCC RFC/Munster)
18.Tom O’Toole (Banbridge RFC/Ulster)
19. Charlie Ryan (UCD RFC/Leinster)
20. Ronan Foley (UCD RFC/Leinster)
21. Paddy Patterson (UCD RFC/Leinster)
22. Conor Dean (St.Mary’s College RFC/Leinster
23. Angus Kernohan (Ballymena RFC/Ulster)


15. Alberto Rossi (Valsugana Padova)
14. Simone Cornelli (Toscana Aeroporti I Medicei)
13. Michelangelo Biondelli (Rugby Viadana 1970)
12. Damiano Mazza (Accademia Nazionale Ivan Francescato)
11. Tommaso Coppo (Petrarca Padova)
10. Antonio Rizzi (Petrarca Padova)
9. Niccolò Casilio (Patarò Calvisano)

1. Danilo Fischetti (Patarò Calvisano)
2. Matteo Luccardi (Patarò Calvisano)
3. Michele Mancini Parri (Accademia Nazionale Ivan Francescato)
4. Niccolò Cannone (Petrarca Padova)
5. Matteo Canali (Rugby Colorno)
6. Michele Lamoro (Petrarca Padova) Captain
7. Jacopo Bianchi (Fiamme Oro Rugby)
8. Lodovico Manni (Mogliano Rugby)


16. Niccolò Taddia (Accademia Nazionale Ivan Francescato)
17. Leonardo Mariottini (Accademia Nazionale Ivan Francescato)
18. Guido Romano (Rugby Colorno)
19. Edoardo Iachizzi (Usap Perpignan)
20. Enrico Ghigo (Accademia Nazionale Ivan Francescato)
21. Leonardo Bacchi (Rugby Viadana 1970)
22. Filippo Di Marco (Accademia Nazionale Ivan Francescato)
23. Alessandro Fusco (Accademia Nazionale Ivan Francescato)

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