Rugby

Ireland U20 Player Ratings: Huge Comeback From The Wolfpuppies

Ireland U20 Player Ratings: Huge Comeback From The Wolfpuppies

It was a half of two halves in the opening 40 minutes of the Ireland U20s. The 2016 Six Nations Grand Slam champions, Wales were dominant, cutting Ireland to shreds. But Ireland pulled it back. A Bill Johnston drop goal got Ireland off the board and they eventually relaxed.

A wonderful game throughout with some huge scores. Ireland pulled it out of the bag despite a late Wales try to bring it to a one point game. But Wales missed four kicks at goal, and that was the difference.

15. Jacob Stockdale 8

A class apart. It's obvious that Stockdale has PRO12 experience. He glides through gaps and sparks things for Ireland. His two tries were deserved, if both poacher's efforts. You can watch the second try here. Disclaimer: it may make you tingle.

14. Matthew Byrne 7

Mixed game for Byrne, and it probably typifies the Ireland performance. Some weak missed tackles in the first half, and he looked exposed but deserves a lot of credit for putting that to the side and growing into the game. He looked good under the high ball and saved a certain try by forcing a turnover when Wales had a big overlap.

13. Shane Daly 6.5

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Decent outing for the Munster centre. Sparked some magic in attack, but not secure in defense.

12. Conor O'Brien 7.5

He gave Ireland some go forward and was singled out by Horgan as one of Ireland's best performers.

11. Hugo Keenan 6.5 

Wales exposed the Ireland wings, and Keenan struggled. Missed tackles were the biggest reason why Wales went into such a big lead, but Keenan shored it up.

10. Bill Johnston 8

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Ireland are a different team with the Munster outhalf. It was my first exposure to the much-hyped prospect, and I completely understand. Ireland had much better direction and made better decisions when they had the chance, and Johnston was brilliant in guiding the team around.

9. Stephen Kerins 7

I said in the preview that Kerins is so good with front foot ball, and questionable when under pressure. The first half of this game highlighted that more than any. Kerins struggled to have any impact when Ireland were shellshocked, but Kerins was brilliant when momentum changed. His pass is quick, and he plays with a quick tempo. One to watch.

1. Andrew Porter 9

Ireland's standout. You can almost put the revival down solely to the loosehead prop. It wasn't a complete game - his scrummaging wasn't up to its usually standard, but Porter was everywhere. He was so dynamic in the loose, and almost dragged Ireland back into the game.

2. Adam McBurney 6

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The Ulster hooker got the first Ireland try, but he struggled out of touch. Throwing is a hooker's bread and butter, and McBurney needs more work.

He's very good in the loose, and scrummages well.

3. Conor Kenny n/a

Kenny went off in the first five minutes with a dislocated shoulder. That isn't a good thing for Ireland, who already lost Conan O'Donnell pre-tournament.

4. Cillian Gallagher 7

Not as effective at lock as on blindside, perhaps as expected. Some ferocious tackles late in the game that helped Ireland to the victory.

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5. James Ryan 7

Ireland's talisman was quieter than usual. It might be down to his dodgy calf which made him an injury doubt, but he had a vital offload in the lead up to Stockdale's second try. He kept carrying, and gave it his all.

6. Greg Jones 7.5

His support play was excellent, and Jones seemed like he was in a few places at once.

7. David Aspil 7

Ireland's breakdown work was fantastic, and Aspil

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8. Max Deegan 9

Deegan was everywhere. Carrying, offloading, turning ball over. He's exactly what Jamie Heaslip was in 2009. He was brilliant. Shane Horgan's man of the match.

Replacements

16. Vincent O'Brien 

Not on long enough to be rated.

18. Ben Betts 7

Big performance from the replacement tighthead, playing at least 40 minutes more than he would have expected. Ireland will have to lean on him in the future.

20. Kelvin Browne 7

Worked his socks off at the end, with some key tackles. Jumped into everything.

23. Jimmy O'Brien

Not on long enough to be rated.

Conor O'Leary
Article written by
"That's what." - She.

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