Stepping Up: How did the U21s get on in Round 3 of the Rainbow Cup

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Midway through the Rainbow Cup, there were plenty of quality performances on display with Benetton and Glasgow’s youngster standing out collectively while Connacht seem to have uncovered a valuable young blindside that could become a stalwart for years to come. 

It was a Dragons youngster, though, who had arguably the best outing and seems to go from strength to strength with each week.

Munster vs Connacht

Cian Prendergast – Back row

Playing the full 80 minutes at blindside flanker, Prendergast put in a huge shift in defence and could have been given Man of the Match. The Newbridge College old boy made 25 tackles with no misses as well as a line out steal in a terrific performance. 

Leinster vs Ulster

Nathan Doak – Scrum half

Former Wallace High School scrum half Doak came on with just over 15 minutes left and looked dangerous with ball in hand. The 19-year-old made a nice break shortly after entering the fray and almost scored when his opposite man arguably tripped him as he chipped over.

Lions vs Stormers

Emmanuel Tshituka – Back row

Jordan Hendrikse – Fly half

Given the start at fly half, Hendrikse looked comfortable in the role and kicked well to orchestrate his team’s attack. The Glenwood old boy showed off some terrific passing as well and should be in the reckoning for more appearances. After not getting off the bench last week, Northcliff’s Emmanuel Tshituka came just after half time and displayed the athleticism that has so many excited about his future. The youngster carried well and looked dynamic as a modern attacking loose forward.

Evan Roos – Back row

Highly-touted number eight Roos started again this week and although he didn’t quite match his previous outing, the Paarl Boys’ High product carried hard and made one impressive line break while also contributing 11 tackles on defence.

Scarlets vs Cardiff

Jac Morgan – Back row

Joe Roberts – Centre

Weekly stand out performances from Morgan seem to be the norm now and he will surely be in the reckoning for a test cap over the summer. The flanker, once of Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, contributed 25 tackles and was a quality link player in attack for Scarlets. Former Coleg Sir Gar centre Roberts was brought on at outside centre with 20 minutes remaining. The youngster slotted into Scarlets attack well as they came roaring back into the contest and worked hard on and off the ball.

Gwilym Bradley – Back row

Young flanker Bradley came on at openside in the final minutes. The Hampton School product showed clear willing to make his mark putting in a big hit on defence as his team came away with the win.

Benetton vs Zebre

Gianmarco Lucchesi – Hooker

Filippo Alongi – Tighthead prop

Riccardo Favretto – Lock

Manuel Zuliani – Back row

Paolo Garbisi – Fly half

Young tighthead Alongi (Mogliano) was given the start after some perceived issues last week and seemed to be holding up ok in the scrum but the prop unfortunately had to be substituted due to injury after just 20 minutes. Fly half Garbisi (Mogliano) played the full match and was masterful at times with the boot – pinning Zebre back as his team controlled the game and adding 14 points from the tee as well.

After impressing last week, Lucchesi (Livorno) came on just after half time and scored with his first involvement, driving over in the corner from a line out. The young international was active in the loose and looks to be a more than capable impact player from the bench for Benetton. Riccardo Favretto (Mogliano) was brought on alongside Lucchesi at lock and proved to be effective as ever in the line out and carrying ball. However the youngster was substituted after 20 minutes with a head injury. Young flanker Zuliani (Paese) was introduced in the final quarter and put himself about in his cameo, however his usual defensive impact was fairly limited with the game in hand.

Bulls vs Stormers

Stravino Jacobs – Wing

In contrast to last week, Jacobs took the game to the Stormers in the 2nd half and looked powerful with ball in hand. The winger finished off a try nicely while also topping his teammates in metres made and making breaks look easy at times with his combination of strength and footwork. The Paarl Gim old boy looks to be back on form for the Bulls.

Jaden Hendrikse – Scrum half

Glenwood product Hendrikse started the match and was typically effective with his delivery in a tight first half. His box kicking was slightly inconsistent by his standards but he was generally quick and efficient before coming off in the 2ndhalf.

Edinburgh vs Glasgow

Connor Boyle – Back row

Charlie Savala – Fly half

Jack Blain – Wing

Charlie Savala was given the start ahead of fellow young fly half Chamberlain this week but the Sydney-born playmaker didn’t have things any easier with Glasgow continuing their form from last week. The former Scots College star showed glimpses of his ability to get the ball wide and had a couple of nice kicks from hand before being substituted due to injury in the 2nd half. Boyle was brought on in the final quarter and the former Stewart’s Melville flanker tackled well and threatened over ball, engaging in a nice head-to-head with former teammate Darge. Also of Stewart’s Melville, Jack Blain came on and showed off some of his footwork and power down the right hand side but his opportunities were unfortunately limited.

Tom Lambert – Loosehead prop

Rory Darge – Back row

Jamie Dobie – Scrum half

Starting at loosehead and openside respectively, Lambert and Darge were two of Glasgow’s best players against Edinburgh. Lambert carried with real physicality and worked hard defensively to put in a quality shift in the loose. The Trinity Grammar (Sydney) old boy had mixed results at scrum time but will only improve with experience. Former North Berwick pupil Darge made 17 tackles and was extremely impressive with his carrying – using leg drive and a 2nd effort to earn extra yards after contact. The former Scotland U20 captain also had a try disallowed from close range. Jamie Dobie came on in the final 20 minutes and was typically threatening around the fringes, allowing Edinburgh no time to relax around the breakdown. Still eligible for next month’s U20s, the Merchiston product’s delivery was crisp and quick and he could feature for the age-grade side and full test team over the summer.

Dragons vs Ospreys

Ben Carter – Lock

Dan Babos – Scrum half

Aneurin Owen – Centre

Caldicot’s Ben Carter got the nod to start at lock and continued on from his previously impressive cameos, carrying hard all match and racking up 12 tackles for his side. The big forward showed some nice handling at times as well to keep the ball alive after taking contact. Former Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw student Owen played the full 80 minutes at inside centre for Dragons and earned Man of the Match honours at full time despite his team coming up short in the contest. The playmaking centre put in an excellent all-round performance but it was his vision and handling that stood out as he created space for teammates to attack throughout the match. Scrum half Babos (Croesyceiliog School) came on in the final 10 minutes with Dragons trying to get something from the match and his speed of service and accuracy helped the team as they threatened to make it close late on.

Joe Hawkins – Centre

18-year-old Hawkins (Cwmtawe Comprehensive School) came on at outside centre and carried hard when given opportunities although his chances were fairly limited with Dragons in the ascendency. The youngster showed willing on both sides of the ball though and with more space and experience should be able to exert more of an influence on proceedings.

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