Murray Kinsella reports from Donnybrook
NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRELAND U20s ended their Six Nations campaign with a 14-10 defeat against England at Donnybrook.
Read our match report here, but below we pick out three of Ireland’s standout players this evening.
The former St. Andrew’s College man didn’t always get the best quality possession, but he made the most of it nearly every single time.
Larmour has been outstanding for Ireland throughout this championship and his superb form continued this evening at fullback, where he has been even more effective than when on the wing earlier in the Six Nations.
His footwork is sublime, while the sharp burst of acceleration Larmour possesses means he invariably beats the first tackle. The Leinster academy man’s mindset is one of pure attack and he looks as though he always expects to break the line.
Against a highly-vaunted England team, Larmour was the best back on the pitch. He has a bright future, but looks ready for the step up to senior rugby sooner rather than later, while fellow back three member Calvin Nash was also impressive here.
Larmour is a player for Irish rugby to get excited about.
The Bandon Grammar College alumnus was introduced off the bench far earlier than he would have expected, replacing the injured Oisin Dowling in the 32nd minute, and set about showing his class.
Although better known as a back row, the Young Munster man filled in in the second row more than comfortably, bringing grunt to Ireland’s work in the tight and adding a useful extra dynamic carrier to the mix in attack.
He had several big moments in the build-up to his own second-half try, which brought Ireland back to 14-10. That score saw Coombes muscle over from close-range, his power more than matching up to a heavy English pack.
Munster man Coombes only enjoyed one start against Wales in this championship, partly due to injury, but he has finished strongly to demonstrate his potential.
A word too for the brilliant Caelan Doris, who was excellent at number eight yet again.
One of the less-heralded members of this Ireland U20 group, but the tighthead prop has grown into the championship after being on the bench in the opening game against Scotland.
Ireland’s scrum suffered at the hands of the Scots that day and looked like being a major weak point in this Six Nations, but Connolly and co. have impressed since.
Their scrum has even been a weapon at times, although England’s bulk ensured that wasn’t the case this evening.
As encouraging as Connolly’s work in the set-piece is the Trinity man’s apparent comfort when handling the ball. Seeing him hang wide in Ireland’s 1-3-3-1 shape in this Six Nations has underlined that he is at ease in space. His power in the carry was also useful over the course of his 52-minute shift.
The English pack was expected to dismantle Ireland tonight, and while they did get up a head of steam at times, men like Connolly fronted up strongly to frustrated them throughout.
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