4 players who stood out during the Ireland U20s' win over Argentina

Sam Arnold, Alex Thompson, Joey Carbery and Jacob Stockdale all looked good.

NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRELAND U20s got their World Rugby U20 Championship campaign off to a winning start with a dramatic 18-16 victory over Argentina in Parma, Italy.

Read our match report on the game here. In this piece, we pick out a handful of the Irishmen who managed to impress at Sergio Lanfranchi Stadium.

Sam Arnold

Already capped twice by Ulster, the remarkable thing about inside centre Arnold is that he will be eligible for the U20s again next season. A hugely powerful presence, the Ballymena midfielder is highly rated by Ulster and looks set for higher honours.

Samuel Arnold Arnold gets away a clever offload. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

While Arnold certainly didn’t see as much of the ball as he would have wanted to this afternoon, he made each carry count with his burst of pace and explosiveness through contact. One lovely offload to out-half Joey Carbery in the first half showed his ability to keep the ball alive too.

There were a pair of long passes from Arnold that impressed too, and he is far from a limited, route-one centre. The Exiles product was replaced late on in the game, seemingly through injury, and the hope is that he will be fully fit to face Scotland on Saturday.

Alex Thompson

A superb turnover penalty in the opening minute signalled that the Ulsterman was in the mood for a battle, and that’s exactly what the Argentina pack delivered for the remainder of Thompson’s 62 minutes on the pitch.

Colin McEntee speaking to the players before the game Assistant coach Colin McEntee speaks to the players before kick-off. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

The Queen’s University lock produced another turnover in the 11th minute, this time a clean one, but Ireland knocked-on as he released the stolen ball back on his side.

While Ireland’s lineout was extremely poor in the first half, Thompson had opportunities to compete and spoil on the Argentina throw, which he did well. On top of that, his maul defence was outstanding on two occasions as the Pumitas looked to rumble forward.

Thompson eventually made way for Jack Dwan in the final quarter, but can be pleased with his strong start to the competition. The one concern for head coach Nigel Carolan was a retreating scrum, and his lock pairing of Thompson and David O’Connor will be part of the review in that area.

Joey Carbery

Making his first start for Ireland in a competitive match at this level, the UCD out-half will admit that he made mistakes in this game. However, there were more than enough positives in Carbery’s display to show that he is a playmaker of excellent quality.

Joey Carberry Carbery showed his attacking promise at 10. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

A superb spin through contact almost brought Ireland’s only try of the game in the first half, only for his clever overhead offload to Stephen Fitzgerald to be deemed forward. Mixed in with some of Carbery’s less accurate kicking were some superb touches with the boot.

In terms of place-kicking, Carbery stepped up to the plate in impressive fashion as he slotted five of his six attempts at goal, some of them from difficult positions.

Shorn of the controlling play of Leinster’s Ross Byrne, Ireland needed Carbery to assume responsibility and he looked comfortable for large parts of the game.

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A word too for replacement Tomás Quinlan, who scored the superb winning penalty. The Cork Con man provides another interesting option for Ireland in the 10 shirt.

Jacob Stockdale

As with Arnold, Stockdale was not as heavily involved as would be ideal, but he made an impact on the game with the vast majority of his touches.

Jacob Stockdale Stockdale's power is always impressive. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

The Ulsterman might have been disappointed not to have finished a chance in the right corner in the first half, though it was hardly a free run to the line. An imposing presence, Stockdale has experience as a centre and fullback but was deployed on the right wing here.

A burst up the right-hand touchline early in the game after being freed by Zack McCall was followed up with a nice bosh over the top of an Argentinian defender, showing Stockdale’s power.

Meanwhile, an absolute howitzer of an 80-metre touch finder demonstrated that the Queen’s back has a good boot too. Stockdale will look for more involvements next time out, but having only been drafted in on account of a late ankle injury to Ciarán Gaffney, he looked the part once again.

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Murray Kinsella

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