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All to play for on final day of U18 Six Nations Festival

All to play for on final day of U18 Six Nations Festival
  • Ireland take on Scotland in the first game of the day at Kingsholm
  • Festival winner will be decided when unbeaten England take on France
  • Wales v Italy rounds off the 2019 U18 Six Nations Festival

The third and final day of the U18 Six Nations Festival kicks off tomorrow at Kingsholm.

There will be drama aplenty, exclusively live on Free Sports, as the Festival reaches its conclusion.

Scotland v Ireland

The first game at Kingsholm gets underway at 11:10AM and sees Scotland take on Ireland with both sides looking to end the Festival on a high.

Ireland have slipped to narrow defeats against France and England in their first two games.

But head coach Peter Smyth, who has used 20 players making their U18 debut already this campaign, is pleased by the progress.

“We’re incredibly satisfied that we achieved our potential,” he said. 

“I thought the boys were tremendous from start to finish against England, giving absolutely everything they had. Age-grade international rugby is all about very fine margins.

Credit: Capture the Event

“This tournament is about putting the boys in this environment and trying to get the best out of themselves. Okay, they were on the wrong end of the scoreline but that’s not what it is all about for us.”

Scotland, overall winners last year in the inaugural Festival, are also awaiting their first win this year after defeats to Italy and Wales.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed about not getting the result but as always it’s about key learnings,” said Scotland U18 head coach, Ross Miller

“It’s very much about challenging the guys at an international level. I thought there were some tough periods for the players against Wales and some of which they came through very well. We’ll stick to our task and look to improve certain areas of our game.

“We have reviewed the footage and turned our mind to the Irish game where we will re-group and look for another big effort and a good performance.”

England v France

The second game of the day is the title decider as the Festival’s two unbeaten teams go head to head.

England have beaten both Wales and Ireland, while France have downed Ireland and Italy.

And this latest instalment of Le Crunch should be a good one.

England U18s head coach Jim Mallinder has made several changes to the starting XV from Wednesday’s win over Ireland in Worcester.

In the front row, props Phil Brantingham and Luke Green return as does lock Archie Benson. Flanker Jack Clement and No.8 Nahum Merigan also start Sunday’s match.

In the backs Tom Curtis is named at fly-half while Joe Carpenter returns at full-back.

Credit: Capture the Event

“What I want to see from the players on Sunday is how they adapt to a different threat and challenge from France,” said Mallinder.

“Ireland played with quite a structured style, they put us under a lot of pressure defensively and we struggled to get the ball but we defended well.

“We know France are going to be completely different, they are a lot more creative team, they like to play typically French rugby with flair and will challenge us in a different ways so I’m looking forward to seeing how we react to that.

“I also want to see the players enjoy this final match. We’ve have a good tournament so far, it’s been great that we’ve been winning but we’ve also been learning a lot as we’ve progressed through it.

“The players as individuals have learned what they need to work on and the constant challenge for us is to get better as a team. So I want to see improvement on Sunday and for us to end this festival with a really good performance in front of vocal home support.”

Italy v Wales

The final game of the Festival at 16:10 will see Italy take on Wales.

The Azzurri have proved themselves serious competitors at this level, downing England last year and Scotland already this.

They gave France a serious scare last time out at Sixways and will be hoping to finish the Festival on a high.

On day two Wales were at their free-flowing best to see off Scotland.

Fly-half Ioan Lloyd caught the eye while winger Louis Rees-Zammit also crossed for a double in their victory.

Having lost their first game of the tournament to England, Wales will now look to make it two in a row when they complete their campaign on Sunday.