Stepping Up: Checking in on the U21 players in the Rainbow Cup

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Entering round 2 of the new Rainbow Cup, we’ve been treated to derby fixtures across the tournament. The rivalries and intensity were evident with a number of former youth or school teammates facing each other.

First up was the Italian derby with 6 youngsters involved, including established internationals Garbisi and Mori. We also had the chance to get a look at the South African teams and some top level talent that will likely be pushing for precious Springbok selections in the not too distant future.

Zebre vs Benetton

Federico Mori – Centre

Starting the game at inside centre before moving to the wing after Pierre Bruno got injured, Mori managed to show off his pace and power in spurts with Benetton controlling more of the play. The Livorno product topped his fellow backs in the tackle stats and was a bright spot amidst a below par team performance.

Gianmarco Lucchesi – Hooker

Filippo Alongi – Tighthead prop

Riccardo Favretto – Back row

Manuel Zuliani – Back row

Paolo Garbisi – Fly half

Starting at tighthead, Alongi (Mogliano) demonstrated his strength in the loose but after conceding a couple of scrum penalties to internationalist Fischetti, he was substituted after only 23 minutes. He was perhaps vindicated when his teammates continued to struggle at scrum time throughout the match and will hopefully be trusted more in the future. Playing the full match at 10, Garbisi (Mogliano) orchestrated his team’s attack throughout and looked every bit the promising playmaker that fans are excited about. The stand off was dangerous as a runner as well as distributor and accurate from the tee as well.

Gianmarco Lucchesi (Livorno) was brought on just before half time and was heavily involved in the loose while also accurate with his throws. The hooker entertained with a cheeky pass through the legs in a confident and lively outing. Impressive throughout the Pro14 season, Favretto (Mogliano) had a relatively subdued day before being substituted for the more experienced Negri around half time. Flanker Zuliani (Paese) came off the bench in the 2nd half but with his team dominating much of the play by then, his defensive strengths weren’t put to use. He did still contribute during brief bouts of opposition possession though.

Glasgow vs Edinburgh

Tom Lambert – Loosehead prop

Coming on earlier than anticipated after Oli Kebble’s red card, Lambert was tested in the scrum against WP Nel and struggled at times but managed to get away relatively unscathd against the veteran. In the loose, the former Trinity Grammar student from Sydney carried eagerly and also aided his team in the lead up to a try by slightly impeding a defender before a teammate crashed over – a move more reminiscent of a seasoned pro rather than a 20-year-old rookie.

Nathan Chamberlain – Fly half

Playing opposite his former Scotland U20’s teammate, Ross Thompson, Chamberlain found it hard to find a way through Glasgow’s tough defence on the night. The SGS College graduate wasn’t helped by a lack of dynamism outside of him. He did persevere and appeared confident with the ball in hand though it was Thompson who was the better playmaker on the night. Another young stand off, Charlie Savala didn’t make it off the bench unfortunately.

Munster vs Ulster

David McCann – Back row

Ethan McIlroy – Fullback

With his team on the back foot for much of the match, it was a tough outing for McCann at number 8. The highly-rated RBAI product showed real character though, amassing 16 tackles and putting in the hard yards with the ball, that earned him a spot in our British and Irish Lions ‘Cubs’ squad (below), before being substituted at half time. Methodist College FP McIlroy had an understandably quiet night on the wing. He was useful on occasion with his kick chase and made an effort in the 2nd half to come off his wing and make something happen although he will be disappointed to have missed a tackle on Haley as he broke through to score just before the half.

Sharks vs Lions

Jaden Hendrikse – Scrum half

Coming on just after half time, Hendrikse’s class was evident with dangerous running and accurate kicking from the base of the ruck. His passing was sharp and the former Glenwood player also contributed with some strong tackling around the park. Sadly some sloppy play from his teammates stymied their attack and limited the Sharks’ phases in possession.

Jordan Hendrikse – Fly half

Playing against his older brother, Glenwood alumnus, was introduced in the final minutes and was able to add a conversion from wide after his team drove over from a maul. Unfortunately, exciting lock/back row Emmanuel Tshituka didn’t make an appearance from the bench.

Stormers vs Bulls

Evan Roos – Back row

Given the start versus his childhood idol, Vermeulen, Roos rose to the challenge and produced an excellent display. The former Paarl Boys’ star carried 15 times and chipped in with 8 tackles, 3 turnovers and a line out steal to boot. The number 8 topped off his performance with a well taken try, showing great footwork and leg drive to get over the line.

Stravino Jacobs – Wing

It was a relatively quiet day for Stravino Jacobs on the left wing. With most of the Bulls’ attacking play down the right side, the Paarl Gim old boy was only involved sparingly although he did look powerful when he did have the ball in hand and wasn’t caught out in defence.

Connacht vs Leinster

Cian Prendergast – Back row

Oran McNulty – Wing

Entering the fray in the first half due to an injury, former Millfield schoolboy and Irish exile, McNulty showed some nice quick footwork and endeavour as he tried to get involved coming off his wing but against a full-strength Leinster side, there wasn’t much space for the youngster. Once of Newbridge College, hybrid player Prendergast was brought on in the back row in the 2nd half. Similarly to McNulty, there wasn’t much give in the Leinster defence but the 21-year-old did well to carry hard and operate as a line out option.

Scarlets vs Ospreys

Jac Price – Lock

Jac Morgan – Back row

Joe Roberts – Centre

Former Ysgol Dyffryn Aman pupil Morgan, another of our Lions ‘Cubs’, played the full 80 minutes at openside and was one of the best players on the pitch, outshining the likes of Justin Tipuric opposite him. Ospreys fans will be excited to have him on their side from next season with the flanker contributing on both sides of the ball and posing a near constant threat at breakdowns.

Young lock, Price (Coleg Sir Gar) was brought on with 20 minutes remaining and was active hitting rucks and carrying with his team mostly in control. His former school teammate, Roberts came on in the dying minutes at outside centre but there wasn’t much opportunity for him to demonstrate his abilities.

Joe Hawkins – Centre

In poor conditions, it was hard for young centre Hawkins to make his mark coming on in the final quarter. The former Cwmtawe Comprehensive student was used at inside centre but Scarlets were largely in control of possession and territory and the youngster will certainly have better opportunities in the future.

Cardiff vs Dragons

Teddy Williams – Lock

Ellis Bevan – Scrum half

Bryanston School old boy Bevan came off the bench and looked controlled and sharp at scrum half as he tried to guide his team to the win. The prospect fed the ball to Williams (Ysgol Glantaf) for the go-ahead try with a terrific show of strength to get over the line. Unfortunately for Bevan, he was subbed off in the final minutes after taking a knock.

Ben Carter – Lock

Dan Babos – Scrum half

Aneurin Owen – Centre

Cemented as his team’s starting outside centre for a while now, helping him secure a spot in our Lions Cub squad, Owen had a good individual game in a tight affair away from home. The former Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw student stood up in defence with 8 tackles and didn’t lack physicality in the contact area. He also linked well with his teammates as a secondary playmaker and would have had a try assist if it weren’t for a deliberate knock on.

Caldicot product Carter was introduced from the bench and contributed as a line out jumper and physical presence in attack and at the breakdown with the type of cameo that fans have come to expect from the young lock. Scrum half Babos (Croesyceiliog School) came on with a few minutes left but struggled to make an impact with a man down.

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