3 players who stood out in the Ireland U20s’ Six Nations win in Scotland

Liam Turner, Dylan Tierney-Martin and Jonathan Wren impressed on a good night in Galashiels.

NOEL MCNAMARA’S IRELAND U20s made it two wins from two in the 2019 Six Nations with a three-try 24-5 win over Scotland in Galashiels last night.

With this talented Ireland team picking up momentum in the championship, we look at three players who stood out in difficult conditions in Scotland.

Liam Turner

Deservedly named man of the match, the outside centre underlined his compelling potential with a complete performance in Ireland’s 13 shirt.

Liam Turner and Rory McMichael Turner was man of the match in Netherdale. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Turner captained Blackrock College to the Leinster Schools Senior Cup last year, so his promise was well-established before this season but he continues to learn and develop with the Leinster sub-academy.

The 19-year-old was thrilling with ball in hand against the Scots, making a handful of linebreaks and showing composure and strong decision-making on the ball, passing when the option was on but retaining possession in 50/50 scenarios.

He benefited from the calm influence of Cormac Foley, Harry Byrne and David Hawkshaw at 9, 10 and 12 last night, while the back three of Jonathan Wren, Conor Phillips and Jake Flannery were good in a demanding kick battle. 

Turner’s defence was excellent again, with more competent decision-making and reading of the Scotland attack, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of watching Turner live is his communication.

Among the loudest players on the pitch, the 6ft centre provides highly-accurate and early information to team-mates around him, often reading play a couple of phases ahead. 

Another classy 13 from Blackrock College? Turner is a major prospect.

Dylan Tierney-Martin

Man of the match against England last weekend, the Corinthians and Connacht academy hooker was in contention for the honour again last night.

Dylan Tierney-Martin takes to the field Tierney-Martin takes to the pitch in Galashiels. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

He scored a first-half try – his third in two games – that illustrated his ball-carrying and aggression as he powered over from close-range to get the ball rolling for Ireland. His strength on the ball throughout was important.

However, there is much more to the Moycullen man – captain of The Bish during his school days – who has only switched to hooker from the back row recently.

His handling skill is an asset for McNamara’s team, with Tierney-Martin making several excellent link passes out the back to Ireland’s playmakers. Even in wider channels, the 19-year-old is more than comfortable in catching and passing.

His defensive hits were dominant too, with fellow front rows Thomas Clarkson – who will be underage again next year – and Josh Wycherley making massive contributions in the tackle too, as well as the ever-impressive Scott Penny, who linked everything together for Ireland in another strong back row showing alongside the hard-carrying John Hodnett and the glue that is blindside Martin Moloney.

Tierney-Martin still has much to learn about the intricacies of front row play in the set-piece but his throwing was solid in high winds in Galashiels, with the mature lock Charlie Ryan calling well.

Connacht fans should be excited about Tierney-Martin. 

Jonathan Wren

The Munster academy man – who came through Presentation Brothers College, Cork – didn’t have a huge number of involvements in this game due to the conditions but he made a telling impact when he did feature off Ireland’s left wing.

Harry Byrne and Jonathan Wren celebrate Wren with out-half Harry Byrne after Ireland's win. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

His backfield defence showed up well when he made a pivotal sweeping gather of a Scotland chip ahead in the first half, intelligently working hard across from his left wing to gather in the kick ahead from Jack Blain before the Scotland wing could regather.

Wren – who can also play fullback – had already denied Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman what looked like a certain try off the back of a powerful close-range maul, the Ireland wing somehow wrestling Ashman to ground and forcing the ball loose of his grasp just beyond the tryline.

Wren finally got his reward in attack with the final play of the game as good hands from Flannery, second row Niall Murray and Turner freed him to burn one Scot down the left touchline before swerving inside the last man, showing scorching pace and balance for a wonderful try.

Wren is a Crosshaven man and it’s thoroughly exciting for Munster to see such a promising crop of players emerging from West Cork, with the likes of Fineen and Josh Wycherley, Gavin and Liam Coombes, and several others impressing.

Munster’s production line looks healthy at the moment.

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