World U20s 2015: Wales make two changes for Ireland play-off semi
All to play for as Six Nations rivals look to secure place in fifth place play-off final against Australia or Scotland
Wales have made two changes in the forwards for their World Rugby U20 Championship fifth place semi-final against Ireland in Viadana on Monday.
Injury to captain and Ospreys lock Rory Thornton, who has returned home for assessment on his knee, means Harrison Keddie slots back into the starting XV at number eight.
We can’t afford to look further than Ireland. We must look after our performance and, if we do, the result will take care of itself.
The Newport Gwent Dragons and Ebbe Vale back-row’s inclusion means Tom Phillips switches back to the blindside flank with flanker Ollie Griffiths taking over the captaincy, while Seb Davies moves up to partner Adam Beard in the second row.
The other change sees Cardiff Blues and Pontypridd hooker Liam Belcher preferred to Torin Myhill, who starts on the bench, as does Carmarthen and Scarlets hooker Ryan Elias, who is covering the back row.
Wales U20 coach co-ordinator Allan Lewis expects Ireland to provide a much sterner test than the Japanese outfit which conceded 10 tries in a 66-3 defeat to Wales on Wednesday.
“Spirits are high after a very good win against Japan and it’s important the good work that’s gone on in training translates to the game,” Lewis said.
“Ireland certainly offer a greater physical presence than Japan, especially defensively.
“Ireland have done themselves justice so far in this tournament. They showed a great deal of commitment against New Zealand on Wednesday in a very physical encounter.”
Despite finishing third in Pool A behind France and England with just one win from their three pool matches, Wales are still in the hunt to finish fifth if they can overcome Nigel Carolan’s Ireland to set up a final against Australia or Scotland on Saturday.
A sixth-place finish or better would be their best result since finishing runners-up in 2013, after they lost 19-18 to France in the fifth-place semi-final in Pukekohe last summer before defeating Samoa to finish seventh.
Lewis believes Wales have made improvements since their defeats to France and England, but warns that they can’t think about going for fifth place before the Ireland clash.
“That would be an achievement after losing our first two games,” Lewis added.
“However, we can’t afford to look further than Ireland.
“We must look after our performance and, if we do, the result will take care of itself.
“The Japan game, and the second half against England, showed what we can do with the ball in hand.
“We have also showed progress when it comes to the balance between kicking, passing and running with the ball.
“However, we have to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes as against France and England where we had such slow starts, conceding easy penalties and points.”
Ireland U20: Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht); Stephen Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Sam Arnold (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Jacob Stockdale (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster); Joey Carbery (UCD/Leinster), Charlie Rock (Old Beveldere/Leinster); Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster), Sean McNulty (UCD/Leinster), Oisin Heffernan (Terenure College/Leinster), David O’Connor (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Alex Thompson (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster), Josh Murphy (UCD/Leinster, captain), Conor Oliver (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Nick Timoney (St. Marys/Leinster)
Replacements: Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), Liam O’Connor (Cork Constitution/Munster), Conan O’Donnell (Sligo/NUIG/Connacht), Lorcan Dow (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster), Rory Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht); Tomás Quinlan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Fergal Cleary (Lansdowne/Leinster), Jack Owens (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster)
Wales U20: Dafydd Howells (Ospreys/Neath); Elis-Wyn Benham (Cardiff Blues/Cardiff), Garyn Smith (Blues/Pontypridd), Owen Watkin (Ospreys/Bridgend), Joshua Adams (Scarlets/Llanelli); Jarrod Evans (Blues/Pontypridd), Tomos Williams (Blues Pontypridd); Luke Garrett (Newport Gwent Dragons/Cross Keys), Liam Belcher (Blues/Pontypridd), Dillon Lewis (Blues/Pontypridd), Seb Davies (Blues/Pontypridd), Adam Beard (Ospreys/Aberavon), Tom Phillips (Scarlets/ Llanelli), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons/Newport, captain), Harrison Keddie (Dragons/Ebbw Vale).
Replacements: Torin Myhill (Scarlets/Llanelli), Keagan Bale (Dragons/Cross Keys), Joe Jones (Blues/Cardiff), Lee Taylor (Carmarthen Quins), Ryan Elias (Scarlets/Carmarthen); Kieran Hardy (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Daniel Jones (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Joe Thomas (Ospreys/Swansea).