Toulouse’s young fly-half Romain Ntamack put in a commanding display that helped his French side to a 34-24 win over the Irish Under 20s sides, in Round One of the Six Nations.
The French number 10 racked up 17 points, including two tries, on the way to a bonus point victory on home soil.
Romain Ntamack Stars for France
His first score followed some good work from the strong and physical forward pack. Ntamack took full advantage of Ireland’s dog-leg defence, and exploited the space afforded the Toulouse player freedom to score.
His second; not too dissimilar from the first, identified the space inside the Irish half. His strong turn of pace left Ireland’s defenders struggling to keep up.
Romain Ntamack signe son doublé face à l'Irlande ???
— France tv sport (@francetvsport) February 2, 2018
Ntamack made rugby look very easy. But his work was made simpler with the work of his forwards. The French U20 squad centres around a powerful pack and caused Ireland too many problems.
Top14 experience shone through
His partnership with Stade Francais scrum-half Arthur Coville put France on the front foot, in the first half. That was before a resurgent Ireland reduced the arrears, after the break.
However the French U20s’ Top14 experience told, with Bordeaux regular Cameron Woki touching down for France’s third try. Some good work at the lineout and Woki’s arcing run into space from close range condemned the Irish further out of the contest.
The damage had already been done by the interval. although Ireland looked the brighter team to emerge after half time. Tries coming from captain Tommy O’Brien, Jonny Stewart and James McCarthy.
As much as the young men tried, a fourth French try sealed the contest and crucially in the Six Nations U20 Championship, the bonus point before a fifth later on denied the Irish any dignity to carry home.
Bonus Points could prove useful in Championship
In a Championship set to be the biggest and best since its inception in 2018, bonus points could be difference come round five. Today, France took theirs–then denied any to the visitors.
Ireland will welcome Italy at Donnybrook in round two, while France travel to Scotland in search of consecutive victories in the tournament. The Irish will be looking to redeem their initial loss with victory, to keep their tournament chances alive. But one game in, they’re already playing catch up.
Based on this performance, and especially the display of Romain Ntamack, the French look strong and could well become the team to dispel England’s pre-Six Nations status as favourites.
Follow all the Under 20s Six Nations Championship, with Last Word on Rugby.
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