Wick­low duo to the fore

Clarkson and Fo­ley are key

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - BREN­DAN FUR­LONG Sports Re­porter

AS Ire­land bid to sal­vage their World Cup Un­der20 cham­pi­onship, two Wick­low play­ers are ex­pected to form a cru­cial part of their squad for this af­ter­noon’s (Wednesday) fi­nal group game with Italy.

Hav­ing gained a tremen­dous open­ing game vic­tory over Eng­land, the Ir­ish boys with an injury rav­aged side, lost out 45-17 to Aus­tralia in Santa Fe, Ar­gentina, but hav­ing been forced the play the fi­nal 60 min­utes when re­duced to 14 play­ers af­ter Ryan Baird’s red card­ing for what was deemed a dan­ger­ous head high tackle.

While the 14 play­ers bat­tled on, en­ergy level fi­nally gave way in the clos­ing stages, as Aus­tralia put their nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage to full use run­ning in late match­win­ning tri­als.

For­mer Wick­low RFC mem­ber Thomas Clarkson pro­vided the strength in the front row, bat­tling with a de­pleted pack, while New­town’s Cor­mac Fo­ley came on as a sec­ond half substitute be­ing forced to play out of pos­ti­tion as the Ir­ish ran out of de­fender re­place­ments.

Prop Clarkson has played an in­te­gral role in Ire­land’s set piece dom­i­nance against Eng­land and against Aus­tralia un­til the seven man pack were over­whelmed with fa­tigue in the clos­ing stages.

The 19-year-old, the sec­ond youngest player in the squad, is now Noel McNa­mara’s first choice tight­head for the cham­pi­onship, as he has man­aged to off­set the size dif­fer­en­tial with a sound scrum­mag­ing tech­nique, as ev­i­dent against Eng­land’s Olly Ad­kins, who has three first team ap­pear­ances for Glouces­ter un­der his belt.

Now they will be seeking a vic­tory over Italy which they hope would be suf­fi­cient to keep their cham­pi­onship as­pi­ra­tions alive, for the Grand Slam cham­pi­ons still feel they can im­pact the cham­pi­onships de­spite be­ing rav­aged by in­juries.

For­mer Wick­low RFC mem­ber Thomas Clarkson.

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