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4 players who stood out in the Ireland U20s’ Six Nations defeat to Wales

Jack O’Sullivan, Angus Curtis, Jack Aungier and Ronan Kelleher were all in excellent form for Ireland.

NOEL MCNAMARA’S IRELAND U20s suffered their second defeat in three Six Nations games as they came up short against Wales on a 41-38 scoreline last night.

It was a wild fixture at Donnybrook as Ireland scored five tries but conceded six, and there were a number of standout Irish performances despite the disappointment.

Angus Curtis

The Zimbabwe-born, South Africa-schooled playmaker was Ireland’s best back and proved a constant threat to the Welsh with ball in hand.

Angus Curtis Curtis makes a linebreak for Ireland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Curtis played much of his schools rugby at out-half but has settled into the inside centre role superbly, with his footwork, decision-making, solidity in the collisions and passing skills all impressing.

From a proud rugby family – his father David and grandfather Brian both played for Ireland – Curtis looks like a superb prospect for Ulster, where he is currently part of the academy.

The Queen’s University RFC man took his first-half try against the Welsh expertly and also produced two other linebreaks, while he always looked robust in contact. An intelligent player, Curtis has a bright future.

Jack O’Sullivan

The UCC number eight, who captained PBC to a Munster Schools Senior Cup title last year, has been excellent throughout Ireland’s Six Nations campaign, stepping up powerfully in the absence of the injured Caelan Doris.

Jack O’Sullivan Man of the match Jack O'Sullivan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

O’Sullivan’s dynamism through the tackle is a major strength, but he also possesses crucial skills like footwork and the kind of explosive fend we saw for the first of his two tries against Wales last night.

The Cork man is a real leader, producing big moments on both sides of the ball when his side needs them most, and his progression will be interesting to follow in the coming years.

O’Sullivan certainly looks like the latest exciting back row prospect for Munster and if Ireland are to finish out this championship with successes against Scotland and England, he will be key.

Ronan Kelleher

Playing his second season at this level, the Leinster hooker is understandably impressive in athletic terms, with his power at the scrum and in open play shining through for Ireland.

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Ronan Kelleher with Cai Evans Kelleher is an excellent athlete. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The darting break he made off scrappy lineout possession to tee up Curtis’ try last night showed his attacking instincts, while he hammered into contact in the tighter exchanges against the Welsh.

The younger brother of Connacht wing Cian, Kelleher is already part of Leinster’s academy and has all the attributes to develop into an excellent professional player.

While there was an overthrow at the lineout leading to one Welsh try last night, those kinds of errors are so often collective rather than simply being on the hooker’s shoulders.

Kelleher was superb for McNamara’s men and he will be an essential part of the U20s’ plans as they move into the final two rounds and on towards the World Rugby U20 Championship this summer.

Jack Aungier

The tighthead prop is having an outstanding championship for Ireland, restricting Ulster’s highly-rated Tom O’Toole to a bench role so far.

Jack Aungier with Callum Carson Aungier is having an excellent Six Nations. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Aungier is a big unit and is happy to use his size and power in contact but he is also mobile and fit, allowing him to cover ground with ease.

An important scrum penalty for Ireland coming towards half-time will have been among former St. Fintan’s High School student Aungier’s most enjoyable moments in last night’s game against the Welsh.

There were a couple of missed tackles in Aungier’s performance but the Suttonians RFC product – he now plays with St. Mary’s – delivered an overall performance that once again underlined his rich potential.

He has a fine skillset to go along with his physical prowess and with Tadhg Furlong changing the standards for tighthead props at the very top level, Aungier looks like he fits the mould.

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Murray Kinsella

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