Stepping Up: U21 Players in the final round of the Rainbow Cup

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Last weekend saw the final round of the Rainbow Cup with just the final left to be played between Benetton and the Bulls.

We’ve seen a lot of teams throw their youngsters in at the deep end with success and round 6 was no different with young players from Zebre, Dragons and Edinburgh particularly standing out.

Zebre vs Munster

Federico Mori – Centre

Jacopo Trulla – Fullback

Despite being routed by Munster, there were bright spots for Mori who looks like one of Italy’s biggest attacking assets after Paolo Garbisi. The Livorno product played the full match at outside centre and seemed to relish the loose play, making an excellent break in the 2nd half before a top-class finish in the corner. The centre spun out of the first challenge before powering over with two defenders on him. He will rue a chip kick which ended up being taken back for a score but the game was well in hand for Munster as he and his teammates went all out in their season finale.

Jacopo Trulla had a challenging start to the game, coming off in the 1st minute with an HIA. The fullback did return to play though and had a couple of quality interventions in the match. Trulla’s pace was evident in his kick chase and he almost went the length when he linked up with D’Onofrio down the blindside. Overall it was a tough day at the office for the youngster against a rampant Munster side and he was substituted after 52 minutes.

Thomas Ahern – Lock

Thomas Ahern was brought on for the final quarter of the match. With Munster well ahead and both teams looking to play from everywhere, there weren’t many opportunities for the lock to impose himself. The former St Augustine’s College pupil did hit plenty of rucks and was involved in his team’s maul defence to keep Zebre out in the final minutes.

Leinster vs Dragons

Luke Yendle – Tighthead

Ben Carter – Lock

Aneurin Owen – Centre

Caldicot’s Ben Carter played the full 80 minutes and impressed against a strong Leinster team. The 20-year-old was his side’s primary line out option and ended the match as their top tackler with 12. The lock, who has been compared to a young Alun Wyn Jones, also looked dynamic with the ball in hand and will look to carry on his form on the test stage this summer. Another top Welsh prospect, Owen started the game at outside centre but was moved to fullback early in the 2nd half. The former Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw student showed some savvy in defence with an interception and strip although he was slightly caught in no man’s land in his unfamiliar fullback position when Keenan made a break before feeding Larmour for a score. Tighthead Luke Yendle came on in the final few minutes and managed ok in the scrum but also gave away a fairly cheap offside penalty from a kick.

Sharks vs Bulls

Jaden Hendrikse – Scrum half

Hendrikse was consistent with his delivery at scrum half and his quick tempo kept the Bulls on their toes until he was substituted after 65 minutes. The Glenwood product also managed to get good height on his box kicks to challenge the Bulls back three in a solid performance.

Stravino Jacobs – Wing

Starting in his usual spot on the left wing, Jacobs had a quiet 1st half, making a couple of strong choke tackles in defence and using his huge left boot to exit the Bulls’ 22. The Paarl Gim old boy burst into life in the 2nd half with a nice line off first phase to go in under the posts and showed off his aerial ability throughout in what was a very positive outing.

Scarlets vs Edinburgh

Jac Morgan – Back row

Sam Costelow – Fly half

Joe Roberts – Wing

In Jac Morgan’s final game before his move to Ospreys, the flanker put in a good shift with 17 tackles (2nd on the team) and was an ever-present threat at the breakdown. The former Ysgol Dyffryn Aman pupil linked well with the backs in attack and had a fascinating battle with counterpart and fellow U20s captain Boyle. Sam Costelow came off the bench at stand off but wasn’t able to have a significant impact on the game with Edinburgh in the ascendency after a couple of Scarlets tries created by their forwards. The Oakham alumnus kicked well for touch and slotted both conversions in his cameo. Roberts was brought on on the right wing for the final 20 minutes of the match but similarly to Costelow the outside back didn’t have many opportunities in attack. A graduate of Coleg Sir Gar, Roberts didn’t put a foot wrong in defence and generally looked comfortable out wide. 

Connor Boyle – Back row

Nathan Chamberlain – Fly half

Jack Blain – Wing

Connor Boyle got his first start at openside and fans will be excited to see more of him next season. The former Stewart’s Melville stalwart tackled well and threatened at the breakdown while also using a strong fend in attack in a performance that matched Morgan’s until his substitution. Although it will be tough to get into Edinburgh’s talented back row, Boyle may force his way in sooner than people may think. Another Stewart’s Melville product, Jack Blain started on the right wing and apart from a slightly careless yellow card for an aerial challenge, played the full game there for Edinburgh. The 21-year-old was tough to bring down in attack and bagged himself a late try with an excellent line off the scrum half and helped him team out with his work rate on the kick chase throughout. Young fly half Chamberlain came on in the final quarter and helped guide his side around as they chased the game. The SGS College product from Bristol was lively in attack and looked to stretch the Scarlets defence with quick and wide play helping to get a last minute draw for the visitors.

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