Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
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# Backlash
U20s braced for 'seismic physical battle' against wounded Welsh
Ireland U20 assistant coach Kieran Campbell is bracing his squad for a Welsh backlash.

FORTRESS UNBREACHED, FIVE points on the board. Six tries scored, crowd satisfied and plenty for coaches and players to chew on with four tries conceded.

That’s why Ireland U20 defence coach Kieran Campbell terms the 38-26 win over Scotland as ‘ideal’.

U20 level is ultimately about development, but there is absolutely no harm in developing good habits. And this side have a winning one as they look ahead to weekend two and a clash with a Welsh side reeling after home defeat to Italy.

The second year men among this crop have acquitted themselves well as both underdogs and favourites. But after successfully navigating a vibrant Scottish threat, dealing with a backlash will be a different kind of challenge.

“You can imagine the paint coming off the wall there a little bit in terms of getting them prepared for this week. We are going to get a pretty seismic physical battle on Friday,” says Campbell, academy director with Ulster.

“They are the underdog coming in so they will have a level of emotion and intensity that will come with that. 

How do we prepare for that? We have to be as good if not better than were were against Scotland in the opening passages of the game, make sure that we build ourselves comfortably into the match, take control and impose ourselves from the beginning. 

“That will drain that emotion from them. We are fortunate with the way things are going in Cork that we seem to get a lot of vociferous support. Hopefully that will drain that level of emotion that they are going to arrive with on Friday.”

Aside from reaching the requisite emotional pitch, Ireland’s gameplan will hopefully come on a step further after a first serious Test under their belt.

Campbell calls the win over Scotland their second game together as he counts a hit-out against Munster.  Every competitive minute as a unit knits them closer together in defence and attack.

“It was a little bit of the unknown there going into the first game. You don’t get a chance to look at the opposition and you’re getting caught with a few things. Overall it was the ideal first performance, plenty to be chuffed about and plenty to work on, a few developments (in playing style) to be made; they need to be made fast. 

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“I think the way that we built into a 33-12 lead was great. We are just going to look at the way we managed momentum a little bit in the middle of the second half; it was like we took our foot off the pedal a little bit there. That allowed them to find some space in the game. 

“Fortunately we managed to bring it back and get a healthy lead at 38-19 which was always going to see us comfortable. We are going into this week and we are very much closed on last week. ”

hayden-hyde James Crombie / INPHO Imposing centre Hayden Hyde will bring plenty of physicality on both sides of the ball. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“What we talked about that is consistency in delivering the line speed but the level of collision that is necessary at this level, I think the guys have learned that, that you are not going to get a collision that you are going to win easily.”

Campbell will prime his defence with verbal triggers to remind them of the need to power into and through tackles to achieve dominant tackles. The players under his watch will hear ‘hit and finish’ and ‘finish on top’ in their sleep before Friday’s clash in Cork.

“If we don’t finish on top this week, then the gainline is going to become hugely important for them because that is the way they play.

“I think if I took one thing as the defence coach from the weekend is when we are on, and when we really stick our collisions we are hugely effective but quite rightly we have had a few chats with a couple of young men.”

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