The Irish Under-20s began their 2021 Six Nations campaign with a dominant 38–7 victory over a disorganised and ill-disciplined Scottish side. This was the ideal game for these young men to dust off the cobwebs of the past 16 months of limited rugby and prepare to take on the hosts Wales this Friday night.
Man of the match Alex Kendellen was the star man for Ireland, as the talismanic captain led the team from the first to the last minute. While Munster ponder how to replace the departed CJ Stander, they may already have the answer in the form of the powerful UCC man. Kendellen led the player statistics, with his 15 ball carries and 15 tackles. He even found time for a 25m clearance kick to touch! His intent to play through the tackle and keep the ball alive with his offloading ability is a joy to watch.
Kendellen’s work rate was exceptional throughout the game with it in evidence for Ireland’s first try with his explosive single man clear-out at the 1st breakdown and his latch to propel Alex Soroka over the line. His athletic ability suits the way this side wants to play with him hovering out in the 15m channel, like a young Kieran Read in Ireland’s 1/3/3/1 shape.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) June 19, 2021
Jamie Osborne, the superb full-back for this Ireland 20s team, was another standout player. The positional play of the young Leinster man was outstanding all day. As Scotland aimlessly kicked away possession, Osborne always found himself in a position to reclaim it and his ability to transition Ireland’s next attack was of the highest quality. Osborne’s booming left boot is a huge advantage to his side and their exit plans. But is not only his positional play that catches the eye, his pass at pace before Shane Jennings’ try was outstanding.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) June 21, 2021
He even got himself Ireland’s last try with good vision 5m out.
While these two men were the standouts, there was impressive performances from the two Connacht centres Cathal Forde and Shane Jennings. The bench also added real impact when they came on. The two former St Michael’s men Jack Boyle and Chris Cosgrave were very impressive with Boyle dominating a tiring Scottish pack and two hugely impressive jackal turnovers/penalty won.
Impressive impact off the bench for Jack Boyle #U20SixNations. His 2 jackal pens were excellent. Love the reaction of his team mates. #ShoulderToShoulder #RugbyAnalysis #irevsco pic.twitter.com/t2e2qWopsj
— Brett Igoe (@brettruganalyst) June 21, 2021
The impact of the bench will certainly put pressure on coach Richie Murphy and his assistants when it comes to selection this week for a huge game against Wales on Friday.