Ireland Under-20 head coach Noel McNamara said his side are still looking for improvements as they aim to keep their Grand Sam dream alive against Italy on Friday evening (6pm Irish time).

McNamara's charges head for Rieti on the back of a terrific win against England a controlled defeat of the Scots. They'll be expected to get past the Italians and set up a huge clash with the French at Irish Independent Park but McNamara is taking nothing for granted.

"We’re pleased to have won our opening two games, but the players are ambitious, and they are constantly looking for improvements in their performance, both individually and collectively," he said.

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"Our previous meetings with Italy have been really challenging encounters, with only one score separating the sides in our past number of games.

"The down week allowed for the players to get some good recovery in, as well as reviewing the Scotland game and looking ahead to this weekend. 

"We had a really positive session with the Ireland senior side last Friday in the Aviva Stadium, so the players are now looking forward to getting back into the green jersey."

McNamara makes two changes to the starting XV that claimed a 24-5 win over Scotland last time out.

Craig Casey, who missed the Scottish tie due to injury, returns to wear the No 9 jersey and partners out-half Harry Byrne.

In the scrum, props Josh Wycherley and Thomas Clarkson again start alongside hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin, with Charlie Ryan and Niall Murray in the second-row.

The back-row partnership is also retained, with flankers Martin Moloney and Scott Penny packing down with No 8 John Hodnett. 

Captain David Hawkshaw continues his centre partnership with Liam Turner.

The other change to the side sees Ulster’s Angus Kernohan come on to the wing for his first appearance of this campaign. He lines out in the back-three with Jonathan Wren and full-back Jake Flannery.

Ireland (v Italy): Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster), Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster), Liam Turner (Dublin University/Leinster), David Hawkshaw (Clontarf/Leinster, Capt), Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster), Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster), Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster); Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), Dylan Tierney-Martin (Corinthians/Connacht), Thomas Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster), Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster), Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht), Martin Moloney (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Scott Penny (UCD RFC/Leinster), John Hodnett (UCC/Munster)

Replacements: Billy Scannell (Young Munster/Munster), Callum Reid (Banbridge/Ulster), Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster), Brian Deeny (Clontarf/Leinster), Ronan Watters (St Mary’s College/Leinster), Cormac Foley (St.Mary’s College / Leinster), Ben Healy (Garryowen/Munster), Rob Russell (Dublin University/Leinster)