After England’s victory over Ireland last night, rugby correspondent Luke Clancy takes a look at some young stars to keep an eye on.
Ben Earl – The England captain led his side with his usual power and strength. He marshalled a very well organised defensive set, which Ireland struggled to break down at times. He offers a high work rate and is always a threat at the breakdown. The Saracens man offered great support lines in attack too, running on the shoulder of his man, posing a threat to the Irish defence. It’s easy to see why he’s making a name for himself in the Saracens starting lineup with performances of this quality. Earl finished the game with something to show for his hard work, scoring late on from a powerful drive through the Ireland defence.
Gabriel Ibitoye – The Harlequins winger has had a breakthrough campaign with the England U2o side and he continued his fine form this evening. Ibitoye is an extreme danger on the ball. His ability to step a man is incredible to watch. He carries into contact at full speed and with the ball in one hand offers the offload to his supporting runners. His defensive work is to be admired too, as he covers a huge amount of ground tracking runners and his tackling is hugely strong for a winger. He made a crucial tackle to deny Ireland a try in the first half.
Ibitoye was the creator of possibly the play of the game, picking up the ball on his own 5 metre line before putting the boosters on to turn the Ireland defence inside out with a simply incredible drive before setting up Ben White to score.
He got his reward from a chargedown and kick through which saw him speed away from the Irish defence to collect and score.
Ben Loader – The London Irish man offered a brilliant wide option for England in the first half in particular. He scored a great try from a cross field kick from Northampton’s Fraser Dingwall, which he collected and finished with cool. He offered a great burst of pace and looked sharp when called upon in attack and defence.
Jordan Olowofela- The Full Back looked very assured when called upon in defence and made a number of try saving tackles, and his work rate was impressive. His biggest part of his game is a dangerous running game. Olowofela is a tall rangy player, who likes to spin and slip out of tackles and his length offers a genuine offloading threat to any defence and will be hoping to keep up these sort performances for Leicester and make a run towards the Tigers first team.
Tommy O’Brien – The Ireland captain looked a real danger on the ball and was Ireland’s most creative outlet in the first half in particular. He set up Ireland’s first score, getting on the end of Harry Byrne’s before shipping an inside ball to winger Jordan Hume to score a very class try. Provider then turned poacher when O’Brien picked off Fraser Dingwall’s hopeful pass to run in for an easy score. The centre was pivotal to the Irish attack, running brilliant lines and creating opportunities for his side.
The only blemish on his impressive performance was a sin binning for a deliberate pull back to stop a quick England attack. The sin bin period cost Ireland very heavily conceding