3 players who stood out in Ireland U20s home defeat to England

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NIGEL CAROLAN’S IRELAND U20s suffered their first defeat of the 2015 Six Nations in Donnybrook last night, as England secured a 19-14 victory.

The missed try-scoring chances from Ireland, particularly in the first half, were ultimately what cost the home team, but there were once again many positives in the performance.

This is a talented U20s crop, and here we pick out three players who particularly impressed against England.

Jeremy Loughman

Loughman proved a handful for the English defence. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The powerful prop helped Blackrock College to their Leinster Schools Senior Cup title last year, impressing with his ball-carrying power and set-piece prowess on the tighthead side of the scrum.

He has plenty of history at loosehead too though, and it’s in the number one shirt where he has nailed down a starting spot for this Ireland U20 side.

The 19-year-old demonstrated all his strength with a series of excellent carries for Ireland last night in Donnybrook, while the set-piece was at its strongest with Loughman still on the pitch.

A subtle tip-on pass to Zack McCall for a break in the build-up to Stephen Fitzgerald’s try demonstrated that the front row has good skills and an understanding of space too. Part of a large UCD contingent in this Ireland U20s group, Loughman is a promising player.

Garry Ringrose

Ringrose made linebreaks, passed well and contributed some excellent defensive reads. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Back for his second season at U20 level, the outside centre had put in accomplished performances in the wins over Italy and France prior to the England meeting, but this display saw him stand out even more.

It was with ball in hand that Ringrose did his best work, displaying the same upright and elusive running style that saw him nominated for the IRB World Junior Player of the Year award in 2014.

His timing of pass and awareness of defenders was in evidence for his assist to Fitzgerald and on other occasions. Defensively, the missed tackle for Joe Marchant’s try will truly rankle, but there were a host of other excellent hits and reads.

At the breakdown too, Ringrose made his presence felt. An outside centre of rounded quality.

Zack McCall

McCall is a bundle of sheer aggression. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Munster’s Sean McNulty appeared favourite to wear Ireland’s number two shirt during this campaign before being injured, but Ulsterman McCall has stepped up admirably to claim the hooker position.

There were lineout difficulties last time out against France, and intermittently against England last night, but those are collective issues. For the large part, McCall’s throwing was accurate in Donnybrook.

It’s around the pitch that the Queen’s University Belfast man adds most energy, constantly bursting up from the defensive line to make firm hits. McCall was overly zealous once to concede a penalty, but his chop tackles were largely effective.

The scrum-cap wearing hooker also got involved in the carrying stakes once again, making the valuable yards before Ireland’s backline sparked.

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